President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday, blamed anti-graft agencies in the country of making it difficult for the Federal Government to convince other nations to return funds looted.
The Senate President who spoke at a one-day strategic retreat on Tackling the progress of Anti-corruption bills in the National Assembly, said many assets recovered were relooted by anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria.
Saraki who was represented by the Deputy leader of the Senate, Bala Na’Allah said: “Nigeria is finding it difficult to convince other nations to return funds looted from our treasury. This is because of other nations’ exasperation over the management of returned assets.
“Only recently, Mr. President inaugurated a committee to audit all assets recovered by various government agencies. The National Assembly has been strident about the opacity shrouding the management of recovered funds, which in many cases get reported by the agencies that investigated and recovered them.
“An ad-hoc committee of the Senate, which is investigating some administrative infraction in the Executive, has discovered that many properties recovered from fugitive from the law, have not been accounted for by the investigating agency. This gives global community great concern about the commitment of Nigeria to the anti-corruption drive.”
In his opening remarks, chairman of the committee, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, stated that Nigeria’s struggle against entrenched corruption is a global concern.
Utazi who expressed dissatisfaction with the suspension of Nigeria by Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, said this happened at a time Nigeria has made anti-corruption a cardinal policy of government.
He added that the suspension greatly impedes the fight against corruption in Nigeria. Utazi said: “The suspension activated the immediate shutdown of the EGMONT secure Web, ESW, against Nigeria with the implication that Nigeria can no longer exchange sensitive information with about 172 other member countries in order to carry out investigative and regulatory responsibilities as they affect local and international bothering on money laundering, terrorism financing.
“This is dreadful consequences on sharing criminal intelligence and financial information bothering on money laundering, terrorism financing, proliferation of arms, corruption, financial crimes, economic crimes and such like offences geared towards the support of local and international investigations, prosecution and asset recovery.”
In his own remarks, the Director of Africa network for Environment and Economic Justice, (ANEEJ), David Ugolor, disclosed that Swiss government and Nigeria government are at the final stage of returning $321 million back to Nigeria from Abacha’s loot.
According to him, the return of $321 million Abacha’s loot is at the final stage. “We want to commend the federal government for making sure that the country takes recovery of Abacha’s loot,” he said.
By Ehisuan Odia…