Britain must end its role as a “safe haven” for white-collar criminals who steal Nigeria’s wealth and resources for personal gain, almost 100 Nigerian civil society groups have told the Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Key reformists from across Nigeria’s political spectrum issued the plea in a sternly-worded letter sent to the British prime minister on Thursday.
The letter’s signatories, who represent 95 of Nigeria’s most progressive anti-corruption and human rights groups, asked Cameron to tackle Nigerian dirty money laundered via luxury properties, shops and schools in the UK.
Their demands were issued just two weeks ahead of an anti-corruption summit due to be held in London, which will provide a platform for governments, lawyers, white-collar crime experts and business officials to propose solutions to corruption in all its forms.
Observers argue the world’s anti-corruption architecture has been locked in stagnation for over a decade, with key governments obstructing progress. British anti-corruption think tank Transparency International (TI) UK says the result of this trend is empty rhetoric advocating change in the absence of concrete action.
While some anti-corruption experts suggest the May 12 summit could forge alliances between governments bent on tackling corruption on a global scale, others are less hopeful.
Although the Nigerian civil society groups commended Cameron for taking a so-called leading role on the global fight against corruption, they warned the time has come for him to take a long hard look at his own back yard.
The letter’s signatories stressed the devastating effect corruption can have on ordinary citizens, stunting economic growth and exacerbating violent conflict and mass migration in its wake.
The letter went on to say that Nigerian anti-corruption efforts are severely undercut by UK authorities, who turn a blind eye to vast channels of ill-gotten gains passing through the heart of Britain.
A number of elite Nigerian officials were among those to be named in the highly controversial Panama Papers leak. The vast collection of files is estimated to be the most expansive data leak in journalistic history. The data came from Panama-based law firm, Mossak Fonsenca, a major player in the shadowy world of offshore finance.
The leak consists of more than 11.5 million legal and financial records that cast a glaring spotlight on a shadowy world of white-collar crime and corruption cloaked in secrecy by a complex network of offshore firms.
The files were initially handed to German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, from an unknown source and later shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then dispensed a fraction of them to other media outlets smattered across the globe. Critics say the manner in which the body is disclosing information is Western-centric.