By Tony Orilade, Ag. Head, Media & Publicity, EFCC.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has commended the efforts of the Stolen Asset Recovery (STAR) Initiative of the World Bank and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and asks that it does more in recovering of assets.
The commendation was made by Head, Legal Department of the EFCC Kabir Latona at the multilateral meeting with some independent evaluators from the United States of America during the 10th Session of the Implementation Review Group, IRG and 13th Open-ended Inter-governmental working Group on Asset Recovery and 8th Expert Meeting on International cooperation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UNCAC, which is ongoing in Vienna Austria.
Latona disclosed that Nigeria was enjoying a robust relationship with STAR Initiative in terms of cooperation as well as training and knowledge sharing in the area of asset recovery.
He stressed the importance of STAR as an intermediary in asset recovery as it make things easier for both the requesting and requested countries involved in asset recovery to build trust and thus make return of stolen assets easier.
He also encouraged them to introduce the train-the-trainer to recycle ideas and knowledge among law enforcement officers on a broader horizon, especially as asset recovery is critical to Nigeria.
The STAR Initiative is a partnership between the World Bank Group and the UNODC that supports international efforts to end safe havens for corrupt fund. It works with developing countries and financial centres to prevent the laundering of the proceeds of corruption and to facilitate more systematic and timely return of stolen assets.
It is also an initiative that provides platforms for dialogue and collaboration and also facilitates contact among different jurisdictions involved in asset recovery.
Earlier, Nigeria’s ambassador to Austria, Vivien Okeke said it was compelling that the country identified and recovered the stolen commonwealth of the people. Okeke who was represented by the chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye disclosed that the Nigerian government was commitment to recovering all proceeds of crime from corrupt elements and to re-channel such filthy wealth to national development.
He noted that Nigeria has strengthened controls on system leakages with initiatives such as the Treasury Single Account (TSA) aimed at ensuring that all government accounts are streamlined for effective management and control.
Similarly is the government’s signing of the Open Government Partnership which is primed for transparency and accountability as well as the implementation of a whistle-blower policy, which he said, has been helpful to the government in the recovery of money, running into trillions of naira and in provision of useful information for investigation and prosecution of offenders.
Owasanoye also informed the Convention of the successes of Nigerian anti-corruption agencies in the prosecution of cases of corruption and asset recovery, including assets, domiciled in offshore countries.
He further noted that Nigeria has extended Mutual Legal Assistance to other jurisdictions, even in the absence of bilateral treaties, in compliance with UNCAC’s rules of engagement.
The implementation review meeting of UNCAC aims at progress review on the implementation of UNCAC protocols and provides a platform for information sharing on best practices and lessons learnt in the review mechanism and also for the fostering of cooperation amongst state parties in combating corruption.