Acting President Osinbajo demands repatriation of stolen funds

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has called on African countries to unite and demand for the repatriation of illicit funds stolen and kept in financial havens in other continents.

Osinbajo spoke on Monday as he declared open a three-day Conference on Promoting International Co-operation in Combating Illicit Financial Flows and Enhancing Asset Recovery to Foster Sustainable Development holding at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“We must make it a national call, a call for other developing countries to have the same outrage for drugs, terrorist financing for illicit financial flows,” Osinbajo said, pointing out that institutions that are not co-operating must be made to know that “that this for us a serious issue.”

Professor Osinbajo said there is connivance between the countries where looted funds are transferred and financial institutions operating in those countries.

“There is no way this the transfer of this assets can happen without a handshake between the countries that they are transferred  and the international banking institutions in the countries in which they are transferred, there is no way it will happen without some form of connivance,” he said.

Drug trafficking

Professor Osinbajo wondered why political corruption has not attracted the same outrage as crime against humanity and dangerous drugs, stating that looting of money where people make decent living “is more criminal than crime against humanity, more dangerous than trafficking in drugs”. 

Earlier, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, Professor Itse Sagay, stated that a study showed that “between 2006 and 2013, 55 top government officials illicitly diverted about N1.35 trillion, roughly at that $7.5million, to themselves at the expense of the ordinary citizen.”

According to him, the funds included “trillions squandered in fuel subsidy scam, billion Dasukigate scam, hundreds of millions of dollars taken from the NNPC by the former minister to bribe election officials in 2015, the list goes on.”

He said the amount could have provided roads, hospitals and education for the citizens of the country.

“It is hard for any country to achieve that when it has looted 90 per cent or its resources and this hemorrhage is leaving our shores under-developed world to the developed world, developing them more while we are regarding,” Sagay said.

Others who spoke at the conference were the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and former Vice-Chair of the Transparency International, Akere Muna.