From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, has said that the private sector was responsible for over 60 per cent of Illicit Financial Flows from Africa to foreign countries.
Prof Owasanoye made the disclosure during the visit of council members of the African Bar Association (AFBA) led by its President, Mr Hanniba Uwaifo to the corporate headquarters of the ICPC in Abuja recently.
The ICPC boss stated that the perpetrators of illicit financial flows (IFFs) channelled the funds through commercial activities enabled by the private sector.
He said ‘a bulk of corruption going on in the country is caused or perpetuated by the private sector. About 60 per cent of funds taken or stolen away from Africa through illicit financial flows are being done by the private sector, basically, through commercial transactions, seemingly harmless transactions that are put together by accountants, auditors and bankers.’
The ICPC chairman, who also commented on attacks on staff of the Commission and other anti-corruption agencies by suspects under investigations, said that it was fueled by impunity and weak laws. Noting that corruption was debilitating in a country, Prof Owasanoye explained that the ICPC was focusing on public sector corruption because of its impact on the country and the private sector.
He listed some of the progress made by the Commission to include: de-emphasising confession-based investigation, a world-class forensic lab, staff auditing, and capacity building.
He charged the African Bar Association (AFBA) to play a positive role in regulating lawyers’ effectiveness in the fight against corruption and pledged the Commission’s commitment to supporting the upcoming Anti-Corruption Conference of the AFBA scheduled to hold in Niamey, Republic of Niger.
Earlier in his remarks, the AFBA President, Mr Hanniba Uwaifo, traced the problem in Africa to corruption which, according to him, has led to the underdevelopment of the continent.
He stressed that the continent cannot grow unless corruption was uprooted, adding that the world is worried about the level of corruption in Africa.
Uwaifo lamented that public sector corruption by government officials has held the country back from achieving its great potential.
He also highlighted some of the corrupt practices perpetrated by government officials to include: election malpractices, banditry and influencing the employment of lackeys into anti-corruption agencies in order to aid their corrupt practices.
Speaking on improvement, Mr Uwaifo noted that issues of preventing corruption from taking place in the anti-graft agencies can be enhanced through constant audits of staff and materials.
He commended the ICPC for its due diligence and rule of law in the prosecution of accused persons.
‘I want to commend the ICPC for performing creditably and not engaging in media trials and abuse of the rights of accused persons. I hope the Commission will continue to perform its duties as constitutionally required,’ the AFBA president said.