The heads of anti-corruption agencies in Africa recently urged heads of governments in Europe, America and other jurisdictions to speedily repatriate recovered stolen funds to African countries. Their plea was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the 9th Commonwealth regional conference of anti-corruption agencies in Africa held in Kampala, Uganda.
They also enjoined heads of Government and Commonwealth Africa anti-corruption agencies to engage and empower the citizens to demand transparency, accountability and effective service delivery. The theme of the conference was: “Time to act: Prevent corruption for sustainable development.” The Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, declared the conference open while the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, spoke on the remarkable achievements of anti-corruption agencies on the continent. The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and immediate past chairman of the Association of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa, Ibrahim Magu, underscored the major achievements of the nation’s anti-graft agency at the occasion.
The withholding of stolen assets from Africa has become a sore point in the relation between Africa and the countries in Europe and America. It is immoral for these countries to keep the stolen assets from Africa in their vaults while employing various tactics to thwart moves to return them to Africa. It is in the light of this that the move by the anti-corruption agencies in Africa to recover the stolen wealth is timely and apt.
The repatriation of the stolen funds will address the current blight, poverty and underdevelopment in Africa. It is sad that several appeals by African heads of state on the issue have not been heeded. We recall that President Muhammadu Buhari made a similar appeal during his recent visit to the United Nations (UN). While appreciating the cooperation of Switzerland in this regard, we urge other countries in Europe and America to emulate the shining example of Switzerland
It is significant that Nigeria has signed agreement with many countries to repatriate the nation’s stolen funds. It is worrisome that aid and loans to the continent are outweighed by financial flows to tax havens and costs of climate change mitigation. Ironically, more wealth leaves Africa every year than enters it, by more than $40billion. A study by a coalition of UK and African equality and development campaigners claims the rest of the world is profiting more than most African citizens from the continent’s wealth. It revealed that African countries received $162billion in 2015, mainly in loans, aid and personal remittances. But in the same year, $203billion was taken from the continent, either directly through multinationals’ profits and illegally moving money into tax havens by corrupt heads of governments and other officials. This led to an annual financial deficit of $41.3billion from the 47 African countries where many people remain trapped in poverty.
Illicit financial flows account for $68billion a year, three times as much as the $19billion Africa receives in Aid. Africa is poor and needs the help of these Western and American countries. It is painful that development in Africa is being stalled by illicit cash flows. For instance, African countries lose billions of dollars every year to extractive industries, western tax havens and illegal loggings.
Some structural changes need to be made to promote economic policies that would enable African countries to best serve the needs of their people, rather than simply being cash cows for western corporations and governments. The ongoing bleeding of the continent must stop. The anti-corruption agencies in Africa that have launched this offensive must be supported to the hilt to realise this noble objective.
We, therefore, urge them to ensure that all stolen funds are repatriated to Africa. We believe that nothing should weaken their resolve. They can also prevent companies with subsidiaries in tax havens from operating in African countries. Let European and American countries be steadfast in repatriation of stolen funds to Africa.