President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday in Paris, France, called for stringent actions against perpetrators of illicit financial flows, including crackdown on safe heavens, warning that continuous impunity will encourage more pilfering of countries’ resources to the detriment of poor and vulnerable populace.
Speaking at the first edition of the Paris Peace Forum, held on the sidelines of the Centenary of Armistice Day, President Buhari said Nigeria had strengthened its laws and institutions to fight corruption, fast-track recovery of stolen assets and punish offenders, urging more commitment from governments and international institutions.
The President delivered his statement on “Illicit Financial Flows (Iffs) and Corruption: The Challenge of Global Governance’’ during the event, attended by about 70 world leaders and governments.
“We must crack down on safe havens for corrupt assets. I also advocate sanctions by professional bodies against transactional middlemen (lawyers, bankers, brokers, public officials, etc.) who facilitate Illicit Financial Flows.
“I would like to reiterate that the Government of Nigeria remains open and is ever willing to continue to identify and share experiences and strategies to give life to the ideas that will lead to winning the fight against corruption,’’ the President said.
He noted that illicit financial flows pose a risk to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as many countries grapple with the challenge of gathering resources to improve their Human Development Index, while a few privileged individuals continue to explore the weaknesses in financial systems.
The President urged world leaders and global institutions to remain resolute on the Global Declaration Against Corruption made in London in 2016, which encapsulates the collective commitment to the principles of Open Government Partnership, especially the National Action Plans to actualize beneficial ownership transparency and enhance the capacity of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).
He said the Independent Reporting Mechanisms and support for the activities of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes should be reinforced.
President Buhari said tremendous progress had been achieved through the enactment of global instruments, noting that some fundamental technical issues remain unresolved.
He disclosed that the Whistle-Blowing policy had facilitated recovery of billions of naira from corrupt persons, which had been redirected to the development of critical infrastructure and programmes that will benefit all Nigerians and realisation of the SDGs.
At the continental level, the President said the African Union had bestowed on him the honour to champion the fight against corruption, which would be focused on strengthening international cooperation on asset tracing, recovery and repatriation, and enhancing cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations’ anti-corruption monitoring mechanisms.