Port Harcourt October 21, 2019 The United Kingdom, (UK) receives not
less than 90 billion shady funds from across the world every year most
of them stolen by public officials from the third world including but
not limited to Nigeria, foreign experts said in Port Harcourt on Monday.
The experts said 87,000 illicit assets in UK are owned by anonymous
companies in tax havens, while the values of secretly owned properties
in the UK are between 56 to 100 billion pounds. Forty percent of these
properties are in the city of London, they affirmed.
The revelation was made by world acclaimed anti-corruption advocates,
Christian Erikson and Lionel Faull in a joint paper tagged Obtaining
Property Information Overseas presented at the ongoing anti-corruption
training organized by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda
(Heda Resource Centre) in collaboration with international groups, The
Corner House, Kent Law School, all in the UK, MacArthur Foundation and
the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, (OSIWA).
The programme drew 70 civil society organisations, media, labour and
representatives of anti-corruption institutions from across the southern
region of Nigeria.
In his remarks, Nick Hildyard, an anti-corruption investigator said
though the UK has one of the most effective anti-corruption laws, but
that in reality, the country does not appear to be fully prepared to
stall the wave of corruption with her financial institutions providing
the logistics for corrupt officials from Nigeria. “The UK is a legally
corrupt country”, Hildyard said adding that if Western countries
genuinely wish to fight corruption, they should stop the warehouse of
stolen funds from Nigeria.
Faull said “Getting your money back is easier said than done. It takes a
long time. If you do not support corruption, there is no need doing
banking with Nigeria. The fight against Corruption will not succeed
without a very active citizenry. It requires international solidarity,
teaming up with civil society in order to work with international
organisations and make authorities accountable.”
In his presentation, the HEDA Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju said about
456 top Nigerian public officials holding strategic positions are yet to
declared their assets inspite of the regulations put in place by the
Code of Conduct Bureau, (CCB)
Speaking at the conference, the Special Adviser to President Mohammadu
Buhari on National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP) Mrs. Maryam Uwais
said millions of Nigerians have never felt the impact of the government.
She commended the Federal Government’s efforts at fighting poverty by
ploughing recovered stolen wealth into meeting the essentials of poor
individuals across the 36 states of the Federation.
Uwais said “We have information about savings among the beneficiary of
the N-SIP. We discover that 567 million naira have been saved by these
women. 18,210 have also taken loans and less than 1000 have defaulted.
The beneficiaries are involved in animal husbandry and other businesses.
They have become very useful to themselves. What we have done is to
insulate the process from the political process”
She said at the moment, 6million Nigerians are on the data base of the
NSIP adding that 167,000 out of the figure are physically challenged
people. Communication, she said, remains a challenge since many of the
beneficiaries live in the rural areas. “It has been a dilemma for me
generally. It’s been a choice that has been hard. We call on journalists
to please go out of their duties to help reach out to them.”
She said that corruption cannot be eradicated overnight. On poverty
alleviation, Mrs Uwais said “We need at least 10 years of consistent
intervention to be able to make real impact. We have tried to adopt best
practices given our own circumstances. The money given to the poor
continues to facilitate economic growth. We must all participate in this
sustained effort. It is time to turn the tide of the fortunes of our
people. Corruption knows no boundary. We need to ensure that utilization
of funds is transparent.”
In her presentation, Prof Ayo Atsenuwa of the University of Lagos said
though the Freedom of Information law has opened fresh opportunities for
Nigerians to hold their leaders accountable, she however regretted that
the Official Secrets Act which was introduced by colonial lords about a
century ago into the Nigerian legal system remains in force. Nigeria,
unlike many other countries and jurisdictions, lacks a policy,
guidelines or law on public access of court documents.
Border Drill: Benin Republic unrepentant — FG
The Federal Government has accused the Republic of Benin of being recalcitrant in its importation of prohibited goods for ultimate dumping in to Nigeria’s market in spite the partial border closure order.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made the accusation when he featured on a “TV Continental”, live Programme, monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
“Regrettably, the signs out there are not positive in the sense that in the last few weeks, the amount of seizures that have been made do not show that our neighbours are in a hurry to comply with Nigeria.
“As we speak today, there are three ships heading toward Benin Republic laden with about 105,000 metric tons of rice.
“This is a country of about 12 million people. That rice is meant for ultimate consumption of Nigerians.
“In addition, Benin Republic just negotiated with Japan to receive rice worth 30 million dollars.
“It is clear that the ultimate destination of the rice will be Nigeria and that is why we are appealing to our neighbours.
“First preservation is the first law of survival, we are doing this to preserve our economy and the security of our country,” he said.
The minister who disclosed that the border drill will be in place as long as necessary, noted that Nigeria could no longer continue to play the big brother at the expense of its economy and national security.
“The facts at our disposal reveal that 10,000 vehicles are imported every month into the Cotonou seaport.
“For a population of about 12 million people to be importing 120,000 vehicles in a year means that the vehicles are going to Nigeria with sufficient market.
“As I have said, there is no gain without pain, there will be discomfort at the beginning ultimately we believe it is going to be to the ultimate interest of Nigeria,” he said.
The minister reiterated that both Benin Republic and Niger Republic were hurting Nigeria’s economy and security because of their non compliance with the ECOWAS Protocol on Transit Goods and State of Origin.
“We have been on this dialogue since 2015 and the truth of the matter is that there has never been any legitimate transit trade between us and the two countries
“This is hurting our economy, affecting our security and no country will fold its arms when the overall interest of its people is being jeopardise,” he said.
The minister said that government decided to prohibit sale of fuel in filling stations less than 20km away from the borders because of the high level of smuggling of the product to neighbouring countries.
He said no fewer than 160 filling stations were affected by the directive and they were in such a large number because they primarily engage in smuggling.
“These are stations that when you drive into them in the day time, they will not be dispensing fuel until late in the night when they will smuggle the product across the border,” he said.
Mohammed disclosed that a very sizable proportion of the subsidised imported petrol into the country was finding its way to Benin Republic, Niger Republic and some other West African countries.
“What we find out is that we are actually subsidising the product not just for Nigerians but for many West African countries.
“For instance, if the landing cost of pms is about N200 today, in order to cushion the effect on the people, government sells at N140 per liter.
“Meaning that for every liter of fuel bought, the government is paying N60. If you consume one million litres a day, the government is paying N60 million a day.
“You can imagine that from what the government pays, it is the neighboring countries that benefit about 50 per cent of it,” he said.
Mohammed said that it had been provenly established that 95 per cent of illicit drugs , arms and ammunition came into the country through the land borders with attendant effect on increase in terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes.
He said with the border drill directive, there had been drastic reduction smuggling of drugs and arms into the country, thereby reducing rate of crimes.
The minister said that government was aware of the effects of the border drill on the citizens, particularly the spike in the price of rice, but the people must bear the temporary pains to reap the benefits.
NAN reports that most of the viewers that called in to the programme supported the government on the partial border closure directive.
They contended that Nigeria had been reduced to a dumping ground for decades.
Some of them gave the examples of China that closed its borders for decades to achieve its vision of self reliance and becoming a nation to reckon with globally
SDN Trains CBOs, Journalists On How To Track NDDC Projects Using Technology
In continuation of its efforts at bridging the gap between service providers like the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC and communities, Stakeholder Democracy Network SDN in partnership with the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation engaged community based organizations and media practitioners in a one-day start-up workshop to equip them with the requisite skills need to support the NDDC in actualizing its core mandate of developing the Niger Delta.
An official of BudgIT, a nongovernmental organization with a focus on participatory governance through accessible budgets and public data, Mr Adewole Adejola led participants through the rudiments of budget and project tracking. Employing vivid experiences from Tracka, an arm of BudgIT established to address critical issues related to projects in Nigeria, Mr Adejola carefully the processes of project assessment and evaluation to the participants.
The event which took place on Tuesday at the Aldgate Hotels in Port Harcourt included breakout sessions where participants identified several issues related to project execution and proffered solutions to them.
Some participants who spoke with FR News at end of the event expressed gratitude to the organizers of the workshop, adding that the skills they have acquired from the training would be used to ensure that NDDC projects sited in their communities are not only completed but also executed according to design and specifications.
Recall that SDN in collaboration with other development partners has held two other events as a build-up to developing an application geared towards improving the level of engagements between NDDC and citizens in Rivers State. On the 14th of November, the SDN in partnership with the Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation and the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation awarded prizes to winners of the hackathon organized to enable young computer programmers from the region design a user-friendly application that would be launched as a technology tool to help community members interact better with the NDDC.