Buhari: Nigeria Lost $157.7bn to Illicit Financial Flows

President Muhammadu Buhari on the podium speaking to the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in New York disclosed that Nigeria lost an estimated $157.5 billion to illicit financial flows between 2003 and 2012.

According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the president quoted the 2014 Global Financial Integrity Report in his address to the high-level national side-event organised by the African Union Development Agency and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Adesina said the event took place on the margins of the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) with the theme, “Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows and Strengthen Good Practices on Assets Recovery and Return to Foster Sustainable Development.”

He said the president noted that such massive loss of assets, resulted in dearth of resources “to fund public services or to alleviate poverty,” in the country.

According to him, Buhari acknowledged lack of sufficient capital and corruption as impediments to socio-economic development of the continent and restated his administration’s anti-corruption campaign:

He quoted him as saying, “That is why our government has made it a war we intend to win. We will give all it takes to ensure there is no hiding place for purveyors of corrupt practices who are truly enemies of the people.”

Adesina also said the president stressed the need to strengthen good practices on asset recovery and return, saying, “In the last five years, our government has made significant progress to curb corruption,” adding: “We have recovered millions of dollars stolen from our country.”

He added that Buhari said “there are still a lot of other funds that are stuck in foreign bank accounts due to international laws, different jurisdictions and justice systems that make it difficult for repatriation.”

The statement also said Buhari described illicit financial flows as “illegal movement of funds from one country to another,” lamenting that, “these flows deplete Africa’s internally generated revenues, foreign exchange earnings, reduce tax revenues, drain natural resources, facilitate corruption and stunt private sector development.”

It also said Buhari cited tax avoidance as another form of illicit financial flow, quoting the Tax Justice Network and the International Monetary Fund report as stating that estimated over $200 billion per year is “being lost by developing countries when multinational enterprises do not pay taxes in the countries where they made the profit.

“This amount is significantly higher than the annual development aid received by these countries which are estimated to be about $143 billion.”

The meeting, according to the statement, was attended by the Presidents of Zambia and Ethiopia.