Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has said the recovery of proceeds from corrupt financial acts which denies perpetuators the benefits of such crimes will advance Nigeria’s desire to end endemic corruption in the country.
Speaking at a recent event organised by the Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT), to mark the 2018 International Anti-Corruption Day in Abuja, the representative of NEITI’s National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG), Dr. Bernard Verr, stated that besides the recovery of proceeds of corruption, other positive development adopted by the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, in the fight against corruption include, prevention of corruption, enforcement and sanctions, public engagement, and ethical reorientation.
The global theme for the 2018 commemoration was: ‘Corruption: An impediment to the sustainable development goals,’ with the campaign slogan ‘United against corruption’.
Verr, however pointed out that the current government which was elected in 2015, “on strong anti-corruption agenda,” has “pushed the frontiers in the fight against corruption in several ways.”
He added that: “These include strengthening the anti-corruption agencies, strengthening accountability systems, passing strategic legislations and enforcing sanctions with vigour.”
According to him, the adoption of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) in 2017, was a major development in the quest to end corruption in the country.
He noted the inclusion of recovery of proceeds of corruption as a key pillar of the strategy was important because, “it is a key policy of this government to deprive the corrupt of the benefit of their crime and ensure restitution to the citizens and the state itself; it aligns with the sub-theme and the linkage to sustainable development.”
Verr, said that with elections holding in 2019, Nigerians must work together to ensure a transparent and credible process focused on issues relevant to sustainable development and wellbeing of citizens.
Similarly, in his goodwill message, the Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), Mr. Oliver Stolpe, said with over $1 trillion paid by individuals and businesses as bribes annually around the world, corrupt practices were present in “all countries, rich and poor, north and south.
Stolpe, described the phenomenon as, “an assault on the values of the United Nations,” adding that corruption, “robs societies of schools, hospitals and other vital services, drives away foreign investment and strips nations of their natural resources.”
“It undermines the rule of law and abets crimes such as the illicit trafficking of people, drugs and arms. Tax evasion, money laundering and other illicit flows divert much-needed resources for sustainable development,” he explained.
On her part, the Head of the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), Ms. Lilian Ekeanyanwu, stressed the importance of conducting a corrupt-free elections in 2019, noting that a corrupt election can only produce a corrupt government.