Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu on Thursday said the Federal Government was determined to recover stolen assets hidden abroad despite it being a “complex” process.
He spoke in Lagos after a road-walk to mark the African Union (AU) Anti-Corruption Day, which is held every July 11.
This year’s theme is: “Towards a Common African Position on Asset Recovery.”
Magu, represented by EFCC Lagos Zonal Head Mr Mohammed Isa-Rabo, referring to a report by a high-level panel on Illicit Financial Flows (IFF), said Africa loses over $50 billion yearly through illicit financial outflows.
“A large portion of these outflows is made up of illegally acquired assets that are located all over the world.
“As we are all aware, asset tracing, freezing, management and eventual repatriation are a long and complex process.
“As a result, heads of anti-corruption agencies in Africa have persistently sought the support and collaboration of the global community in repatriating stolen assets back to African countries.
“The need to strengthen international cooperation amongst the anti-corruption agencies in Africa for purposes of developing an African common position framework on asset recovery and return can, therefore, not be over-emphasised,” the EFCC Acting Chairman said.
He noted that the Muhammadu Buhari administration has made the fight against corruption and the recovery of stolen assets a key agenda.
This, he said, has resulted in significant recoveries of looted assets that were acquired through mismanagement of public funds.
“It is against this background that today’s convergence of all relevant anti-corruption stakeholders (domestic and international) to reflect on the challenges of asset recovery in Africa and solicit contributions and support towards developing a framework for an African common position on asset recovery is very important.
“Besides, there is need to create awareness and engage the citizens in asset recovery efforts.
“All hands must be on deck in response to the clarion call from across the world to defeat corruption. We must all demand the culture of integrity and accountability to win the fight against corruption,” Magu said.
The EFCC Acting Chairman emphasised that corruption remains Nigeria’s and Africa’s greatest problem, with resources that should have delivered the good life to the majority being cornered by a privileged few, leaving the continent underdeveloped.
“The Commission recognises the fact that enduring success in the fight against economic crimes and corruption can only be achieved when all stakeholders embrace this important fight.
“This is why we will continue to encourage us all to shun crimes and all acts of corruption.
“Let me emphasise again that the future of this country belongs to us all. The decision we make today will determine the type of society our children will live in. Together we can make Nigeria great again,” Magu added.
A leader of the Movement against Corruption (MAC), a coalition of 250 civil society organisations, Dr Joe-Okei Odumakin, said it was gratifying that the AU set up the day with a view to combating the continent’s biggest scourge: corruption.
“Africa, our great continent, is bleeding under the heavy weight of corruption. If Africa does not kill corruption, corruption will kill us. More than $50billion of our resources is being starched away through illicit flows yearly.
“The poorest people we can find in this world are from Africa. Instead of us putting the feet of our youths on the pedestal of prosperity, they are being put on the pedestal of corruption.
“Hunger, war and terrorism are as a result of corruption. But we must all ensure that we keep our children alive. We can longer continue to agonise, but we must organise.
“We can’t fold our arms akimbo, while our country is bled dry. That is the essence of this walk,” Odumaki said.
She frontline activist urged Nigerians to join the fight by speaking up against acts of corruption and by blowing the whistle.
“When we see something, we must say something. The EFCC alone cannot fight that war against corruption; the government alone cannot do that either.
“So, we must all, wherever we find ourselves, make the fight against corruption our battle cry.
“I am an incurable optimist and I am so optimistic that, if we all join hands, we will be able to repatriate all our stolen funds.
“All of us here remain the lubricants for the survival of the entity called Nigeria and, indeed, Africa.
“So, we must all be ready to confront this scourge. I believe that African will flourish again,” she added.