The acting chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, Friday enjoined Nigerians in the Diaspora interested in buying assets in the country from their place of residence to liaise with his office to do a background check on persons they entrust their monies to.
He also enjoined them to own the fight against corruption stressing that the whistle-blowing policy of the government applied to those in the Diaspora who he said would receive 5 per cent of sum recovered from anyone reported as having stolen from the country.
The chairman frowned at people who mismanage money sent home for several reasons but whish always almost end up in wrong hands or mismanaged and said such incidents should be brought to the notice of EFCC for appropriate action.
Magu who was guest speaker at the Black History Month of the Centre for African Research of the School of Business and Management Studies, Queen Mary University of London held in London November 23, said that for the war against corruption to be effective it should be fought at all levels and not just on the agencies of government.
In the paper he presented entitled “Taming Corruption: The way forward for African Development”, Magu traced the efforts of the United Nations and the African Union to come up with agreement on the frame work for tackling corruption, adding that African countries have been at the receiving end of the evils of corruption.
He decried the stifling effect of corruption, even as he noted that corruption was a world wide problem that needs a concerted action to tackle it.
In his presentation Magu identified different dimensions and ramifications of corruption and fingered the ruling elite, business men and government bureaucrats as major perpetrators of the vice.
He revealed that about $1trillion is given out as bribe yearly in the world adding “this presentation supports the view that corruption is one of the factors that contributed to the current predicament of the African continent. The World Bank estimates that about $1trn are given out as bribe worldwide annually, representing about 3 percent of world GDP”.
Magu said that the massive effects of corruption on the continent should raise concern especially as corruption now discourages Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by creating economic uncertainties, increasing operating costs and distorting incentives for investment, adding ‘corruption is the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development’.
According to him “there is another dimension of corruption in Africa that is worth mentioning because of its greater destructive potentials. This pertains to large scale corruption perpetrated by the ruling elite, top government bureaucrats, politicians, business men, bank executives, captains of industry in the private sector and the rest. For example between 1970 and 1996, capital flight from sub-Saharan Africa through corruption totalled $187billion, an amount that exceeded the external debts of the countries involved”.
Lamenting on the extent of pillaging going on in Africa Magu stated: “Firstly, the huge amount stolen by them and taken out of the continent and the hidden in safe havens in Europe, North America, Asia and other place have virtually crippled socio-economic development in Africa. Secondly, the corrupt acts of these unpatriotic African looters have grounded many private and public enterprises, pushing some countries to the verge of financial ruin”
Answering questions at the end of his presentation, the anti-corruption czar lauded the cooperation his agency is receiving from the British National Crime Agency(NCA) in the fight against corruption but decried the delay in extraditing the former minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke or repatriating assets she acquired with stolen wealth from Nigeria.
On allegation that he was hesitating to prosecute governor of Kano state because he belongs to the ruling APC, Magu denied the allegation saying that political consideration does not influence decision to prosecute anyone.
Earlier, John Taylor of the Centre for Commercial Law, QMU postgraduate department who spoke on business development in sub-Saharan Africa identified rule of law, a programme of genuine economic reform, good governance and leadership as crucial towards taming corruption in Africa.
While welcoming participants at the lecture the Director of the Centre, Dr.Owolabi Bakre said the lecture was in furtherance of the quest to harness opinions on the best and practical ways to tackle the corruption vice. He said that while it would be difficult to totally eradicate corruption, concerted efforts were needed to tame it and enjoined all to proffer solutions to address it.
In his contribution, the adviser to the Centre Mr Tunde Alabi described the choice of Magu as the guest of honour because of the successes he had achieved since he was appointed to the office over the past three years.