ANTI-corruption group the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (Heda) has revealed that assets and funds worth more than $400m stolen from Nigeria by public officials have recently been recovered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In a devastating revelation, Heda officials explained that out of the 800 assets uncovered by investigators, 216 were linked to 13 top security officials, while the remaining 584 have been traced to public officers. Heda chairman Olanrewaju Suraju, said the illicit financial outflows from Nigeria have continued to hurt the vulnerable poor, fuel violence and constitute threats to moral authority of the Nigerian state.
Speaking at a conference yesterday titled Fixing Financial Flows: A critical review of UK and UAE Policies, Laws and practices in Financial and Non-financial Institutions, Mr Suraju said the UAE and the United Kingdom had been facing attacks for failing to live up to international obligations in curbing illicit financial flow, mainly perpetrated by politically exposed persons. He added that the latest stash represented some of the hosts of illicit financial flow from Nigeria, estimated at $17bn every year.
Mr Suraju said: “Politically-exposed persons are not just politicians but also their families, while enablers of illicit financial flow include dealers in precious minerals and professionals who enhance and sustain illicit financial flows. Nigeria should progressively review her international obligations like the UN Conventions on Corruption which has five focal points which included international cooperation, technical assistance, asset recovery and the mutual legal assistance.”
Also speaking at the conference, Dayo Olaide , the deputy country director of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, said while transparent elections remained a momentous step towards probity and good governance, it was disturbing that public enthusiasm towards elections was fading. The summit held in Abuja.