By Obinna Amaobi, Abuja
For the second time in two weeks, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has appealed to the British Government to help Nigeria to retrieve the country’s stolen money stashed in banks in the United Kingdom.
He said it was worrisome that the wealth of the country has for a very long time, remained trapped in foreign countries.
He said the delay in repatriating stolen funds was hindering infrastructural development of Nigeria and creating paucity of funds to run the country.He said Nigeria would have been better if the stolen monies have been returned.
Magu said: “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.”
He faulted the rate at which illicit funds are being moved away to Britain and other European countries.
He said the EFCC has 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 disclosed that some unscrupulous elements were smuggling out raw gold, especially from Zamfara State to foreign countries.
A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Tony Orilade, quoted Magu as saying the smuggling was being used to launder money outside the shores of the country.
He said the smugglers were denying the country of the precious natural endowment that would have been processed locally and value gained from it. He said Nigeria, especially the EFCC, has a good working relationship with the British Government, and has 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 Organized Crime Joint Analysts, SOCJA, should go to every region in the world and try to get the picture of its peculiar organized crimes.
Kerr said: “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?”
Aside Nigeria in West Africa, the assignment he said, will take the team to Ghana, Guinea and Senegal, in order to identify the threats and challenges, facing the countries of this region from organized crimes.
Kerr added: “Our job is not to be the experts, but to try to understand what are the underlying causes and driving forces of serious organized 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 said Nigerian government needed political wills to win the fight against corruption. He 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