· Seeks travel restrictions for corrupt persons, says international community turns a blind eye to graft
· London summit launches global plan to recover stolen assets
Tobi Soniyi Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in London said that in furtherance of his administration’s war against corruption, Nigeria would soon begin the full implementation of the principles of Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS).
In Nigeria’s country statement to the anti-corruption summit hosted by the British Prime Minister David Cameron, Buhari said that the federal government would apply the OCDS to major projects in the oil, transportation, power, health, education and other sectors.
The OCDS enables disclosure of data and documents at all stages of the contracting process by defining a common data model.
The publication of OCDS ensures greater transparency in public contracting, and can support accessible and in-depth analysis of the efficiency, effectiveness, fairness, and integrity of public contracting systems.
A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying that his administration was also taking steps to ensure greater transparency of the ownership and control of all companies involved in property purchase and public contracting.
“Nigeria is already collating this information through the extractive industry initiative process and will extend it to other sectors.
“Nigeria will establish a transparent central register of foreign companies bidding for public contracts and buying property. We welcome the proposal by developed countries to work together to improve the access of developing countries to beneficial ownership information for use in public contracting,” the president said.
Buhari also welcomed a proposal to restrict the ability of those involved in corruption to travel, invest and do business overseas.
“We commit to joining the pilot initiative for the automatic exchange of beneficial information. Nigeria commits to deploying public-private information sharing partnerships to bring together governments, law enforcement agencies, regulators and the financial sector to detect, prevent and disrupt money laundering linked to corruption.
“We commit to work together to enhance company disclosure on the payments to governments for the sale of oil, gas and minerals, complementing ongoing work within the EITI.
“Nigeria is already reporting progress through the EITI working groups and will continue to work with interested countries to build a common understanding and strengthen the evidence for transparency in this area.
“We welcome voluntary disclosures through EITI reporting and by some major companies regarding payments to governments for the sale of oil, gas and minerals.
“We welcome the new 2016 EITI Standard, in particular the requirements on beneficial ownership and the sale of the government’s share of production. We will sign up to the Common Reporting Standard initiative.
“We commit to reviewing penalties and other actions against professional enablers of tax evasion, including for corporations that fail to prevent their employees from facilitating tax evasion.
“We support the development of a global commitment for public country by country reporting on tax information for large multinational enterprises.
“We commit to the strengthening of our asset recovery legislation, including through non-conviction based confiscation powers and the introduction of unexplained wealth orders.
“In order to improve on the current legal procedures and ease asset recovery procedures, we have drafted the Proceeds of Crime Bill which provides for the transparent management of recovered funds and assets and a non-conviction based approach to asset recovery.
“We will work with other countries, civil society and international organisations to support the accelerated implementation of the voluntary provisions of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and we commit to the implementation of the outstanding obligations under the UNCAC.
“We support the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre to be managed by National Crimes Agency (NCA) of Britain. We will work with NCA in promoting this centre in the African region,” the president said.
Buhari also excoriated the international community for turning a blind eye to corruption, adding that Nigeria losses $7 billion yearly to crude oil theft.
In order to stop further theft of Nigeria’s oil, Buhari appealed to the international community to urgently create an anti-corruption infrastructure.
Buhari said that new measures against corruption that would be adopted by the summit should also include mechanisms that would assist countries like Nigeria to combat illegal activities such as crude oil theft.
He also sought the creation of a strategic action plan to facilitate the speedy recovery and repatriation of stolen funds hidden in secret bank accounts abroad.
He said: “When it comes to tackling corruption, the international community has unfortunately looked away for too long. We need to step up and tackle this evil together. That is why we have gathered here today.
“Corruption creates a system where resources are shared by a small elite while the majority wallows in poverty. Corruption also undermines the ability of countries to finance development.
“I recall in this regard, the landmark Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the 3rd International Conference on Finance for Development held in January this year.
“A prominent feature of that global framework was the recognition that good governance and measures to combat corruption and curb illicit financial flows will be integral to the effort to attain sustainable development globally by the year 2050.
“It is for this reason that my government is determined to address illicit financial outflows which have served as a major impediment to progress in our country.
“I wish to reiterate our demand that the global community must come up with mechanisms for dismantling safe havens for stolen funds and facilitate the return of stolen assets to their countries of origin.”
In his opening remarks at the summit, Cameron applauded Buhari’s vigorous efforts to curb corruption in Nigeria.
Other speakers at the opening session included the President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, and the United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry.