From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), an NGO, has blamed rising insecurity and infrastructure decay in Nigeria on illicit financial flows to and assets in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
HEDA Chairman Suraj Olarewanju cited a recent report which indicated that about $400 million worth of assets procured through illicit financial flows to the UAE have allegedly been traced to security personnel and ‘politically-exposed’ persons in Nigeria.
Olarewanju made the disclosure in Abuja while speaking at a symposium organised by HEDA on “Fixing Illicit Financial Flows: A Critical Review of UK and UAE Policies, Laws and Practices in Financial and Non-Financial Institutions”.
He noted that the $400 million could have been used to fix infrastructure and security issues in the country.
According to him, ‘a recent report showed that about $400 million worth of assets are owned by Nigerians in the UAE. If the resources meant to provide security and assist in making life better for the people are used to buy assets that are not even put into use; there is no way we won’t have problems in our hands.
‘From the findings before us, there are some politically-exposed persons that have not even visited their property for a whole year.
‘There are some of those properties that they don’t even know exist in their names and some of these properties are only known to the system when they die because they are put in different forms of guise to shield them away from themselves.’
Suraj added that another report supported by the MacArthur Foundation revealed that over 800 properties are owned by 394 Nigerians in the UAE.
‘Of the 800 Nigerian stolen Illicit assets lugged in UAE, 13 security officials owned 216 of them while 584 of the remaining assets are owned by Nigerian public officials. That shows that almost each of them will be having about 30 properties in the UAE. That is followed by politically-exposed persons, the politicians who have about 226 properties.’