One of the major challenges bedevilling most global economies is the issue of corruption and misappropriation of public funds by those entrusted with the responsibilities of leadership, especially political leaders.
Nigeria as a nation is not devoid of this negative trend as historical experience has shown that right from its inception and independence, the Federal Republic of Nigeria has always battled with issues and crises of corruption and corrupt leaders. Many people aspire for political positions and power because of what they stand to grab and gain for themselves and their families and not necessarily with the aim or objective to serve their fatherland. These, political positions and power have become so enviable and lucrative in Nigeria for all the wrong reasons as a majority of these politicians, apart from the outrageous wages been paid to them monthly, have devices other numerous corrupt channels to exploit and siphoned national resources to their pockets and in most cases, some of these negative acts are done with so much impunity and disregard for its damming effects on the nation’s well being.
As a way of curbing these ugly trends and also to serve as a deterrent to many politicians who intend to follow in the footsteps of their corrupt predecessors, the British commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has in a recent statement released to the press, sounded a note of warning to anyone with fraudulent intentions to desist from such and disclosed that any form of ill-gotten money, will no longer be allowed into the UK.
Laing made these comments in an event while signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the UK and Nigeria for the return of the loot recovered from James Ibori, former governor of Delta state.
Recall that James Ibori had been earlier probed on numerous occasions for his involvement in looting and embezzling of public funds which he starched in various accounts outside the country.
The commissioner further confirmed and disclosed that the MoU will ensure the return of over £4.2 million regained from the affiliates and household of Ibori to the Nigerian government.
“The return of these assets to Nigeria has been subject to several hard-fought legal challenges by third parties which were defeated in the UK courts,” she said.
“We will ensure the full weight of law enforcement to crack down those who use, move, or hide their proceed of crime in the UK.”
The high commissioner also emphasized the need and significance of transparency, as a major priority for both UK and Nigeria governments, while trying to recover these assets.
“It is vital that this agreement makes strong provision for transparency, monitoring, and accountability,” she said.
“It is a guiding principle of both UK and Nigerian governments that stolen assets should be used for projects that benefit Nigeria’s poor.”
Meanwhile, Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, has also in a statement affirmed the words of the British commissioner and insisted that the FG was duly committed to fulfilling and ensuring the openness in the bid to manage all the recovered properties.
“The assets returned will support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria,” Malami said.
“The projects are the Lagos-Ibadan, expressway, Abuja – Kano road, and the second Niger Bridge that is being executed under the supervision of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.
“The project will boost economic growth and help alleviate poverty by connecting people and supply chains of the east to the west and the northern part of Nigeria.”
Gift Joseph Okpakorese