Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin, Rose Ejembi, Makurdi, Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin and Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe
Africa losses as much as $50 billion annually to illegally acquired assets and looters, said the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC).
The commission made the revelation during a walk to mark the third African Union (AU) Anti-Corruption Day held across the country, yesterday.
Speaking during the rally, with the theme: “Towards a common African position on asset recovery” in Ilorin, Kwara State, the zonal head of EFCC, Mr. Ishiaku Sharu stressed the need to strengthen international cooperation among anti-corruption agencies in Africa with a view to developing a common position framework on assets recovery and return.
“The continent is losing over $50 billion yearly due to illegally acquired assets allocated all over the world and the process of tracing, freezing, management and eventual repatriation of assets is a long process, hence the need for the involvement of relevant instruments through international cooperation to repatriate stolen assets back to Africa,” he said.
While confirming that an estimated $50 billion is siphoned out of the continent annually, Makurdi zonal head of the Commission, Johnson Babalola, blamed the wave of insurgency plaguing the country on corruption.
“Every resources we have to make sure Nigerians live well have all been stolen and in private pockets. Most of these people who stole our common wealth used them to purchase assets. There is need for Nigerians to stand and expose all these stolen property,” Babalola said.
In Edo, the EFCC zonal head of operations, Muktar Suleman Bello, said the agency has secured 51 convictions and recovered N45,619,706.71 within the last six months of its operation in Edo State. It also said property and instruments of frauds, which are proceeds of crimes have been forfeited to the Federal Government.
Similarly, the Gombe zonal office revealed that the commission stopped a governor in a state in the zone from squandering N11.5 billion government money in less than 24 hours to the expiration of his tenure.
The zonal head of operation, Mr. Michael Wetkast, who briefed newsmen in Gombe, said the agency following a tip-off on plot to spend the funds, rushed to freeze the government’s account.
He said the zonal office has secured the convictions of 55 cases from January to July and that over N90.8 million was recovered.
Sharu said the walk was to bring together all relevant anti-corruption stakeholders (domestic and international) to reflect on the challenges of assets recovery in Africa and solicit contributions and support towards developing a framework for an African common position on assets recovery as well as create awareness and engage the citizens in assets recovery efforts.
Suleman described the theme as important because of the need to recover and return to the good people of Africa what has been looted and stolen out of the continent by some individuals.
He said for us in Nigeria, it is a settled fact that the country has over the years lost billions of naira to illicit financial flow stressing that this act of corruption was the reason the country is still touted as potentially great nation after 58 years of its sovereign statehood.
He said this is also the reason there was unconscionable poverty in the otherwise rich nation as resources that should have delivered the good things of life to the majority of the people have been cornered and stolen by ravenous elite leaving the nation’s roads, hospitals and other social amenities in appalling state.
Sharu said President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration efforts in the fight against corruption have brought significant recovery of looted assets acquired through mismanagement of public funds.