Nigeria needs its looted funds in your domain for development, CSOs tell UK, US, Switzerland

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Yemi Adedeji, Abuja

A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Thursday said that United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) and Switzerland should ensure criminal convictions for foreign bribery and harbouring of developing countries looted assets.

The CSOs comprise of ‎ African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Social-Economic and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Open Government Partnership (OGP).

The civil groups also said that tracing, tracking and repatriation of looted assets should be given accelerated attention and not bogged down with legal complications by harbouring countries as being experienced by Nigeria.

They made the called in Abuja at the Pre-Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) and Consultative meeting with the theme; ‘Building an Enduring Framework for Asset Recovery in Nigeria’‎, in preparation to GFAR slated for December in Washington

David Ugolor, ‎the Executive Director, ANEEJ, while speaking said ‎the US, UK and Switzerland should urgently repatriate all looted assets in their countries for the Nigerian government to finance development but ensure civil society participation in all the repatriation process.

“In line with the Busan Commitments, donor countries should ensure criminal convictions for foreign bribery and harbouring of developing countries looted assets.

“Tracing, tracking and repatriation of looted assets should be given accelerated attention and not bogged down with legal complications by harbouring countries as being experienced by Nigeria. ‎” He said

He added that GFAR should support and advocate for the consistent utilisation of the crime of illicit enrichment to facilitate recovery of stolen assets by the high-ranking public officials.

Ugolor stated: “without any shade of doubt, it is obvious that we need new national asset recovery architecture to deal with the multiple challenges facing our country. The anti-corruption agencies will need to explore note create strategies to respond the new large scale incidences of corruption in both the public and private sectors.

“We need to strengthen our institutional anti-corruption system through‎ the introduction of innovative legislative agenda.

“The proceeds of Crime Bill and other anti-money laundering reform bill deserve attention, particularly with the increasing reports of the looting of public resources. The Panama ‎papers leak and the Thambo Mbeki provides string evidences why we should all work together to stop illicit financial flows out of Nigeria,” he noted.

He however called on international community to walk the talk and fulfil some of the commitments made during the London Summit, which have direct implication for anti-corruption in Nigeria.

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