Criminal Cartels Abroad Aid Corruption In Nigeria, Buhari Fires Back At Critics | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Criminal Cartels Abroad Aid Corruption In Nigeria, Buhari Fires Back At Critics

President Buhari
Posted: May 11, 2016 at 8:19 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)
…Says 150,000 Barrels Of Crude Stolen Per Day
President Muhammadu Buhari has lashed at critics over allegations that corruption was endemic in Nigeria, saying most of the domestic perpetrators of corrupt practices were aided and abated by international criminal cartels.
Buhari who lamented the backwardness corruption has caused the country, gave a vivid description of how international collaborators aid the crime.
“Our sad national experience had been that domestic perpetrators of corrupt practices do often work hand-in-hand with international criminal cartels,” the President stated.
He said the practice was mostly manifested in the plundering and stealing of public funds, which are then transferred abroad into secret accounts.
The President who is currently attending the Commonwealth Summit on Anti-Corruption at Malborough House, London, United Kingdom, argued that the trend would continue, unless the global community favours the establishment of an international anti-corruption infrastructure that would monitor, trace and facilitate the return of stolen assets to their countries of origin.
Buhari who spoke on the theme, “Tackling Corruption Together: A Conference for Civil Society, Business and Government Leaders” on Wednesday, also urged global leaders to designate crude oil theft as an international crime for which sanctions should be explored.
He said Nigeria loses about 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day, siphoned on a large scale and exported, with the proceeds laundered through world financial centres by transnational organised criminals.
He also canvassed for speedy repatriation of identified stolen funds once it has been confirmed by the host nations as illicit wealth, while waiving aside any preconditions for early repatriation.
“Corruption is a hydra-headed monster and a cankerworm that undermines the fabric of all societies.  It does not differentiate between developed and developing countries.  It constitutes a serious threat to good governance, rule of law, peace and security as well as development programmes aimed at tackling poverty and economic backwardness.
“These considerations informed my decision to attend this event as well as the Anti-Corruption Summit organised by Prime Minister Rt. Hon. David Cameron that will be held tomorrow. I expect that today’s event would feed into the discussions that will be held tomorrow at Lancaster House,” he said.
Buhari however admitted that tackling the menace of corruption was not an easy task, but that it was possible to curb it, even if many feathers had to be ruffled.
He said, “Our government’s dogged commitment to tackling corruption is also evident in the freedom and support granted to national anti-corruption agencies to enable them to carry out their respective mandates without interference or hindrance from any quarter including the government.
“Today, our frontline anti-corruption agencies, namely, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), have become revitalised and more proactive in the pursuit of perpetrators of corrupt practices, irrespective of their social status and political persuasion. This is a radical departure from the past.
“I admit that there are a few cases where apparently stringent rules have been applied as a result of threats to national security and the likelihood that certain persons may escape from the country or seek to undermine the stability of Nigeria.
“It is for this reason that we are seeking the support of many countries for the prosecution of certain individuals residing in their jurisdictions. “Of course, we will provide the necessary legal documents and whatever mutual assistance is required to secure conviction of such individuals as well as facilitate the repatriation of our stolen assets.
“Unfortunately, our experience has been that repatriation of corrupt proceeds is very tedious, time consuming, costly and entails more than just the signing of bilateral or multilateral agreements.
“This should not be the case as there are provisions in the appropriate United Nations Convention that require countries to return assets to countries from where it is proven that they were illegitimately acquired.
“We are favourably disposed to forging strategic partnerships with governments, civil society organsations, organised private sector and international organisations to combat corruption.”
Buhari said that in addition to the looting of public funds, Nigeria was also confronted with illegal activities in the oil sector, the mainstay of our export economy.
“That this industry has been enmeshed in corruption with the participation of the staff of some of the oil companies is well established. Their participation enabled oil theft to take place on a massive scale.
“Nigerian crude oil is being stolen on an industrial scale and exported, with the proceeds laundered through world financial centres by transnational organised criminals,” he stated.
He said that oil theft was an organised crime that is almost totally off the international community’s radar, as Nigeria’s trade and diplomatic partners have taken no real action.
He added that Nigeria could not stop the trade single-handedly, and there was limited value in countries going it alone.
“It is clear therefore, that the menace of oil theft, put at over 150,000 barrels per day, is a criminal enterprise involving internal and external perpetrators.
“Illicit oil cargoes and their proceeds move across international borders.  Opaque and murky as these illegal transactions may be, they are certainly traceable and can be acted upon, if all governments show the required political will,” he asserted.