The Federal Government is calling for a common African strategy for the recovery and return of stolen assets; to boost the continent’s economy.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, made the call at an event to mark the third African Union Anti-Corruption Day organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja, yesterday.
The theme of the event, celebrated annually on July 11, was: “Towards a Common African Position on Asset Recovery.”
The day is celebrated in recognition of the significant progress that has been made, and cognisant of the need to continually reflect on approaches to end corruption.
Mustapha said the importance of a common African strategy for the recovery and return of stolen assets cannot be over-emphasised and added that African countries must come together to fight corruption.
“We must come together to fight corruption since we do not only share common history, cultural heritage and commonalities, but we are also bedevilled at the same time with the yoke of corruption. We cannot afford to continue to work at cross opposites. Now is the time to come under one umbrella because we are stronger together.
“Let me, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, thank our African brothers and friends of Nigeria for their understanding and their assistance in the fight against corruption. You can see that these efforts are yielding results. Assets are being recovered and some of the culprits are behind bars after facing the due legal process. Nigeria is ready to lead the rest of Africa in the fight against corruption and assets recovery. We are at a crucial juncture in our determination to clean up Nigeria and bestow a future worthy of expression of our children.
“The time to act is now,” Mustapha said.
The SGF added that stakeholders must stop every corrupt tendencies and reclaim the commonwealth through collective and determined actions at the individual, institutional and governmental levels.
“It is the hope of Mr. President that this dialogue will come up with improved and sustainable strategies that will make assets recovery and become the veritable tools of anti-corruption that it is meant to be.”
Earlier, EFCC acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, said the event was not just to commemorate the African Anti-Corruption Day but also, for anti-corruption stakeholders to reflect on the challenges of asset recovery in Africa.
“It is also to solicit contributions and support in the development of a Common African Position on Asset Recovery,” Magu said.
He noted that one of the outcomes of corruption, which is the flourishing illicit financial flows from the continent, is a major developmental impediment negatively impacting the achievement of the continent’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Corruption affects the security of a nation as we have experienced in Nigeria in recent times.
“The situation distorts the stability and national economic planning process. We have to come to terms with the fact that organised criminal groups have developed intricate channels of illicit financial flows that deprive African economies of crucial resources for development. Such resources end up in safe havens across the globe. We often have challenges in recovery of the assets stashed away in some of these countries. Africa needs all her Assets back.
“While unity among nations in the African continent is critical in demanding the recovery and return of stolen assets, we also need accountability and transparency in the utilisation of returned assets,” he said.
Magu also called for more collaboration now than ever before in assets recovery.
“When government agencies, different bodies, continents and countries partner and synergise on collaborative ventures like this, the benefits are enormous,” he said.