The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission says Nigeria won’t need external loans if stolen monies stashed away in foreign banks by corrupt politicians and heads of state are repatriated.
ICPC Spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua, stated this on Monday in Abuja while speaking on the occasion of the 2021 African Union Anti-Corruption Day marked every July 11.
Over $5 billion were allegedly stolen by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, between 1993 and 1998. A tiny fraction of the laundered funds have been returned to Nigeria while the bulk remained in foreign banks.
Last year, the United States repatriated $311m of the loot to Nigeria and said there was a separate $319m Abacha loot in the United Kingdom and France.
The United Kingdom also recently returned £4.2m of the loot associated with the family members of a former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, to Nigeria.
The Abacha and Ibori loots were some of the billions of naira known to have been laundered from Nigeria by corrupt politicians, either directly or through their cronies. The mammoth nature of the looted funds made the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to refer to the laundered monies as “assets”.
On the other hand, the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has been grappling with funds and has incurred over N20.8tn debt since it came into power in May 2015, according to data by the Debt Management Office.
The Buhari’s regime has also been lampooned for borrowing $2.02bn loan from China.
Just last week, the National Assembly approved a request by the President to borrow N2,343,387,942,848, to part-finance the 2021 federal budget size of N13trn.
But speaking on Monday, the ICPC spokesperson said Nigeria and other African countries won’t need to borrow loans outside the continent if all the looted funds were repatriated.
She spoke on this year’s theme, ‘Regional Economic Communities: Critical Actors in the Implementation of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption’, while stressing that there was a need for a common African policy on repatriation of stolen funds from the African continent.
Ogugua was a guest on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ programme monitored by The PUNCH.
She said, “When we have a celebration like this, we are trying to showcase what we have done so far, over the years, and where we are going.
“This year, there is a lot of focus on illicit financial flows because if these funds are repatriated back to the country, they will really help in development. The countries are suffering from lack of funds, looking for loans all over the place whilst if these funds are repatriated, we will use them to develop our countries.”
The ICPC spokesperson said the Common African Position on Asset Recovery, which Nigeria is a signatory to, has been helpful in tracing and recovering looted funds outside Africa.
“When we want to bring back the money, the host countries give very stringent conditions as if they are also taxing you again. Money that was looted from you, they will give you stringent conditions for spending it, and monitor the expenditure.
“A case in point is the Abacha loot, the World Bank gave a very stringent condition but the crux of the matter is that it is our funds.
“In CAPA, we also give them some conditions – if you are keeping money that belongs to our country in your own country, when you are returning, like say $1bn stolen from Nigeria, you should not return $1bn to us; it has stayed with you for 10 years, you should put it in an escrow account so that it will yield interest. When you are returning it, you should return it in the real current value but they don’t do that. So, they are giving us conditions which we are abiding by but we need to give them some conditions, that is why there is need for a common African policy,” Ogugua said.