PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari will, from tomorrow in London, United Kingdom, be seeking global cooperation in tightening the noose around treasury looters.
He is attending an international anti-corruption summit, with the theme: “Anti-Corruption Summit London 2016,” called by British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Senior Assistant to the President on the Media, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the summit would bring together, world leaders, business and civil society to agree on a package of practical steps to expose corruption, where it existed, punish the perpetrators and support those affected by corruption.
The summit also aim to drive out the culture of corruption wherever it exists and to put in place infrastructure and tools that can be used by international organiations, countries and national institutions to fight corruption.
President Buhari will team up with the other world leaders in designing a global architecture and tools that can be used by international organisations,countries and national institutions to fight corruption.
According to Shehu, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had prepared an outline on specific areas of interest to the country, which the president would put before the world leaders.
The outline, he said, included the development of beneficial ownership information related to corporate ownership, procurement, and public contract.
“By this, Nigeria will seek the lifting of the veil on corporate ownerships, in order to disclose the true owners of a corporate vehicle in contract bids and procurement processes.
“Beyond this, the corporate ownership profile may be shared with other countries or interested stakeholders,” Shehu stated.
According to him, “already, there is a broad view among the participants that public contracting remains a source of public corruption and must be tackled frontally.
“Our officials recommend that contracts within a certain threshold should be published and those behind the companies bidding for the contract should be listed for public scrutiny, both at national and state levels.
“To achieve this, Nigeria plans the enactment of a regulation that will authorise the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to obtain information on beneficial ownership of foreign companies that can be held in a different database to be managed by the CAC in Nigeria,” Shehu hinted.
He said the president would be demanding the strengthening of the supervisory responsibilities of financial and non-financial services regulators and provision of specific training on compliance requirements for these sectors.
The president would also seek the establishment of an inter-agency collaboration as a key element in improving the implementation of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards (such as the money laundering laws, anti-corruption laws, and Financial Intelligence Center Bill).
In recognition of his ongoing war against corruption in the country, President Buhari is expected to speak twice at the summit, first as a keynote speaker at a pre-conference meeting called by the new Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland.
“The second would be for eight minutes allocated to each president or head of government at the main summit, giving the clearest indication that the president’s focus has become a template for the rest of the world,” Shehu stated.
“Recognition apart, the president is not making pretensions about his success and achievements. Knowing the humility with which he goes about his things, he is not marching to London with a Macho image of a fighter who in a true sense of the word pushed back the Boko Haram terrorism and its threat to the nation and confronting equally, embedded corruption like no other regime.
“Of course, these are milestones visible to the naked eye of the international community and have earned him the goodwill of the people at home and abroad,” he said.
According to Shehu, President Buhari would share his experiences with other leaders, as he is of the “strong conviction that increasing globalisation has made it difficult, if not impossible, for stand-alone nations to combat corruption; that without global synergies against corruption, nations will fail in their efforts towards economic growth, maintaining security, reducing poverty and protecting the environment for their children.
“He will, in the light of this, seek support for anti-corruption capacity for our national institutions and the citizenship.
“As his own contribution, the president has substantially aligned himself with major initiatives enunciated by the convener, Prime Minister David Cameron, that seek to increase transparency and governance in several key areas.
“He (Buhari) has formulated a Nigerian position on how to end impunity for corruption and ensuring that those involved in grand corruption are brought to justice through the active enforcement of laws and restrictions.
“Equally in agreement with Cameron, he is making suggestions on ways of empowering those affected by corruption by ensuring that its proceeds are returned to those to those from whom they have been stolen.”
The president is also expected to give assurances that a lot of work would be done on a set of laws that would improve enforcement of anti-corruption laws.
“The government of President Buhari has also forwarded the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, 2016 to the National Assembly for enactment into law. When it is passed, it will enhance mutual assistance and international cooperation between Nigeria and other countries.
“As part of this country’s contributions to the evolution of the global anti-corruption infrastructure, Nigeria will seek support for the hosting of an ‘International Summit on Assets Recovery’ in 2017 in Abuja and for the establishment and hosting of a ‘Forum on Assets Recovery in Africa’ to be based in Abuja. The country will also seek the support of the UK government for the establishment of an anti-corruption coordination framework at the national level.
“Nigeria will be fully embracing UK proposals for the summit on the restriction of the ability of those who have looted public funds from travelling and investing the proceeds of their corruption in developed countries.
“To this end, the Nigerian government will develop its list of those who have been convicted, as well as those already prosecuted in Nigerian courts for grand corruption, for the purpose of sharing them with countries that are interested in offering bilateral or multilateral cooperation to Nigeria in the recovery of looted funds,” Shehu said.
The Nigerian government is also signaling an early support for the UK proposals on assets recovery, which prescribes measures substantially in tandem with a new Proceeds of Crime Bill being drafted and would soon been forwarded by President Buhari to the National Assembly for passage into law.
Shehu stated that in addition to the political spotlighting of corruption, the coming together of world leaders was a sign of hope that countries like Nigeria could gain from the experience of others in improving their regulatory mechanisms as quickly as possible.
This trip, he added, was important for both Nigeria and the international community which reposes a lot of hope on Buhari who is faced with the “daunting task of reversing the socio-economic and political mess in which the previous administration left the country.”
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