Kingsley Nweze in Abuja
The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, yesterday appealed to the British Government to help Nigeria achieve the repatriation of the country’s stolen money stashed away in banks in United Kingdom.
Magu made the appeal while receiving a delegation from British’s Serious and Organised Crime Joint Analysis, SOCJA for West Africa at EFCC’s headquarters.
He noted that it was worrisome that the wealth of the country had for a very long time, remained trapped in foreign countries, hindering infrastructural development of Nigeria and creating paucity of funds to run the country. Nigeria, he said, would have been better if the stolen monies have been returned.
“Our worry is that our money has been held for a very long time in foreign countries and if our money is returned, there will be improved infrastructural development in many sectors of the economy. If all the repatriated funds are pumped into the country, it will significantly enhance our abilities and capabilities,” Magu said.
He frowned at the rate at which illicit funds were being moved away to Britain and other European countries, disclosing that the EFCC had carried out a lot of activities in local and foreign airports in trying to stop and apprehend looters exiting or entering the country with illicit funds.
He further disclosed that some unscrupulous elements were smuggling out raw gold, especially from Zamfara State to foreign countries, by laundering it into money outside the shores of the country and in the process denying the country of the precious natural endowment that would have been processed locally and value gained from it.
Magu noted that Nigeria, especially the EFCC, had a good working relationship with the British Government, and had also received lots of support from the UK Government.
The leader of the SOCJA delegation from the UK’s National Crime Agency, Paddy Kerr, disclosed that the visit to the EFCC followed the instruction from the British Government that each team under the Serious Organised Crime Joint Analysts, SOCJA, should go to every region in the world and try to get the picture of its peculiar organised crimes.
“We need to understand from the EFCC’s perspective, what is driving crimes and corruption in Nigeria. What are the key things EFCC is doing that British can assist?” Kerr asked.
Aside Nigeria in West Africa, the assignment he said, would take the team to Ghana, Guinea and Senegal, in order to identify the threats and challenges, facing the countries of this region from organised crimes.
Speaking further, he said: “Our job is not to be the experts, but to try to understand what are the underlying causes and driving forces of serious organised crimes, so that we can have better programmes in the future and better direct our resources.”
He disclosed that they were looking at areas of illicit financial flows, bribery, embezzlement and contract negotiation, adding that “we are looking at collaboration that will enhance EFCC’s abilities, intelligence gathering and sharing.”
He called for synergy between the EFCC and SOCJA, noting that “criminals are constantly thinking of new ways to get away with their criminal activities.”
Kerr stated that the Nigerian government needed political will to win the fight against corruption and praised President Muhammadu Buhari for the renewed momentum in Nigeria’s anti-corruption fight.
Other members of the delegation are Jim Connelly Webster and Kathryn Lockett, an EFCC statement said.