Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of Nigeria, has called for more collaboration amongst African countries, stressing that it was key to winning the fight against corruption.
He said: “It is only through collective action that we can stay ahead of the criminal elements who rob our countries and our citizens of their present and their future.
“We must also work hard to build cooperation and mutual understanding. We must insist that recovered stolen assets be returned to countries of origin, without any preconditions in line with article 51 UNCAC”.
In a press release by the EFCC Head, Media & Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, he said that Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the opening ceremony of the 8th Annual General Meeting and Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa, held at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, May 14, 2018 also reiterated the commitment of the current administration to the corruption fight.
Describing corruption as “a crime against humanity”, he said it was only through “collaborations and mutual understanding amongst African countries”, that the scourge can be eliminated.
“Recovered funds must also be returned to countries of origin without preconditions,” he added.
While acknowledging the “complex nature” of obtaining legal assistance in repatriating looted funds, he said, “as a global challenge, corruption must be tackled globally.”
He further noted that “the fight against corruption is futile, if proceeds of corruption find safe haven”.
He said: “Fighting corruption is futile, if proceeds of corruption finds safe haven. Regrettably, the procedures to obtain mutual legal assistance to seize, confiscate, to repatriate proceeds of corruption are often so complex.
“Corruption is a global challenge and it requires global collaboration to tackle it. We need to break down the walls and collaborate. African countries must come together to address this issue.”
Osinbajo used the opportunity to request that foreign states should agree to apply the highest possible standards of transparency at all stages. He called on governments of African states to more actively provide money, moral and legal support for anti-corruption agencies.
“We must provide adequate resources to investigate, to adequately improve operatives, to protect their families and to protect whistleblowers,” he said.
Baroness Patricia Scotland, Secretary General, Commonwealth, while describing the conference as “a demonstration that we are all eager to create a paradigm shift”, said the next four days will avail the delegations, opportunity to meet with the challenges of one another.
“We will be seeking to meet the challenges of one another over the next four days. This conference is a demonstration that we are all eager to create a paradigm shift”, Scotland said.
In his welcome remarks, the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, said that the anti-corruption fight as the cardinal point of the present’s administration was not accidental.
“I say unrestrained and unqualified advisedly, but really, President Buhari gives us the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria, unrestrained support, qualified only by his insistence that the anti-corruption war be carried out under the strict, unyielding guidance of law,” he said.
Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd), called on public servants to be honest and transparent, stressing that they should be constantly checked, to ensure they do not tamper with public funds.
His words: “In my time, we believed everything belonged to the country and so we never touched anything.
“We must try to make sure that our leaders are checked to make sure they don’t touch the nation’s coffers. Let the leaders be honest with themselves”.
On his own part, Prof. Wole Soyinka said, “Until we make sure some of our leaders pass through the jail doors of the new EFCC headquarters, the fight against corruption will not be won”.
The conference, which will run till May 18, 2018 has as its theme: “Partnering towards Assets Recovery and Return”.
Other dignitaries at the event include, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), Comptroller General Nigerian Customs Service, Hammed Ali, Speaker House of Representative Yakubu Dogara, represented by Kayode Oladele, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, Thabo Mbeki, for President of South Africa, Paulus Noa, Director General Namibia ACC, amongst others.