President describes recovery process as tedious
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Abuja asked the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to facilitate recovery of Nigeria’s stolen wealth stashed abroad.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, said Buhari made the call while receiving the Executive Secretary of UNODC, Mr. Yury Fedotov, at the State House in Abuja.
Buhari said the process of recovering the stolen assets had “become tedious’’ to the consternation of many Nigerians.
“We are looking for more cooperation from the European Union United States, other countries and international institutions to recover the nation’s stolen assets, particularly proceeds from the stolen crude oil.
“It is taking very long and Nigerians are becoming impatient.”
Buhari told Fedotov that his government had worked very hard in the past 11 months to reverse the very negative global perception of Nigeria on corruption.
The president said: “Our genuine efforts to deal with corruption and drugs have earned us international respect and this has encouraged us to do more.
“We know that by fighting the scourge of drugs and corruption as well as rebuilding trustworthiness, integrity, good business practices, and imposing discipline on youths to avoid drugs, we are not doing a favour to the international community, we are doing a favour to ourselves.”
Buhari also promised that his administration would work with the UN agency to rehabilitate young Nigerians who had been misled into consumption of illicit drugs and drug trafficking.
Fedotov told Buhari that UNODC had chosen Nigeria as a pilot country for support and strategic cooperation in the fight against drugs and corruption.
Last week Buhari appealed to the World Bank to do all within its powers to facilitate the speedy repatriation to Nigeria of stolen funds still being held by Swiss authorities. The president specifically enlisted the World Bank’s help in recovering $320 million in Switzerland, which was illegally taken from Nigeria during the Abacha administration.
Buhari sought the World Bank’s help in repatriating stolen wealth at a meeting with the visiting Managing Director of the World Bank, Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati.
The president said the repatriation of the additional $320 million would help ease the current economic hardship facing the country.
He assured Indrawati that his administration was taking appropriate steps to ensure that public funds were no longer stolen or misappropriated by government officials.
Buhari said: ‘‘We need the support of the World Bank for the repatriation of the funds.
“We are as concerned as the World Bank about accountability. If such repatriated funds have been misapplied in the past, I assure you that the same will not happen with us.
“Three hundred and twenty million dollars is a lot of money and we will not allow it to be misappropriated or diverted.”
One of the conditions given by the Swiss authorities for the repatriation of the funds is that it should be expended on the implementation of social programmes for the benefit of the Nigerian people in an efficient and accountable way, guaranteed by the monitoring team of the World Bank.