…Berates security personnel over worsening insecurity
By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The infrastructural decay in the country has been blamed on the illicit financial flows carried out by a few Nigerians, particularly in the United Arab Emirates, UAE.
The blame was apportioned by by a non-governmental organisation, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA, yesterday in Abuja.
The organisation claimed that about $400 million worth of assets in UAE have been traced to Nigerians.
The Chairman of HEDA, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju said these yesterday while addressing a press conference on “Fixing Illicit Financial Flows: A Critical Review of UK and UAE Policies, Laws and Practices in Financial and Non-Financial Institutions”.
The HEDA chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju thus declared that Nigerians, particularly media practitioners and civil society organizations, must begin to show more than a passive interest in the affairs of the nation.
He stated that in the past ten years, Nigeria lost more than $170 billion to illicit financial transactions.
According to him, “A recent report showed that about $400 million worth of assets are owned by Nigerians in the UAE.
“If the resources meant to provide security and assist in making life better for the people are used to buy assets that are not even put into use; there is no way we won’t have problems in our hands.
“From the findings before us, there are some politically exposed persons that have not even visited their property for a whole year.
“There are some of those properties that they don’t even know exist in their names and some of these properties are only known to the system when they die because they are put in different forms of guise to shield them away from themselves”, he said.
In an apparent reference to the security agencies in the land, Suraju added that a report recently supported by the Macarthur Foundation revealed that over 800 properties are owned by 394 Nigerians in the UAE, with 13 security personnel owning the bulk of those properties.
He said, “Of the 800 Nigerian stolen Illicit assets lugged in UAE, 13 security officials owned 216 of them while 584 of the remaining assets are owned by Nigerian public officials.
“That shows that almost each of them will be having about 30 properties in the UAE.
“That is followed by politically exposed persons, the politicians who have about 226 properties,” he added.
The HEDA Chairman stated further that by simple deductive reasoning, resources meant to provide security in the country were diverted by selfish and highly-placed security personnel, hence the escalating level of killings, kidnappings and banditry in the country.
Continuing, he said, “This means that almost all the monies and the resources meant for security were diverted to these properties. And these are just the ones we know,”.
However, in a communiqué issued at the end of the conference, HEDA noted that “the United Kingdom and UAE are culprits in the illicit financial flow from Nigeria and have been facing attacks for failing to live up to international obligations in curbing illicit financial flow.
“Politically exposed persons are not just politicians but also their families while enablers of illicit financial flow include dealers in precious minerals, professionals who enhance and sustain illicit financial flows.
“Nigeria should progressively review her international obligations like the UN Conventions on Corruption which has five focal points including international cooperation, technical assistance, asset recovery and the Mutual Legal Assistance’ participants said in the communiqué.
Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Sadiq Raddah who represented the committee chairman, Professor Itse Sagay said government is committed to tracking illicit financial transactions even as he noted that the laws of the land would be fully brought to bear against perpetrators of the criminal acts.