Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has set up a Diaspora Information Desk to attend to issues of concerns from citizens abroad, Chairman of the agency Abdurrasheed Bawa has said.
The new desk will “further ensure that Nigerians in Diaspora are able to safely invest in Nigeria and improve the country’s image among the comity of nations,” Bawa said while calling on Diasporans not to “sit on the fence” regarding the fight against money laundering and other financial crimes.
Bawa spoke during an Expert Training and Advocacy on Tracking and Recovery of Illicit Funds and Assets organized by the Human & Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) in collaboration with the EFCC, MacArthur Foundation, Kent Law School, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, OSIWA, the Corner House and other stakeholders.
The EFCC boss, who was represented by Dr. Enakeno Oju, a personnel of the Commission, urged Nigerians in Diaspora to continue to support the fight against economic and financial crimes.
“As critical stakeholders, we are urging the Nigerians in Diaspora not to sit on the fence but continue to support the fight against economic and financial crimes and be assured of the EFCC’s support and commitment. We must collectively strive to achieve the Nigerian dream,” he said.
Bawa also called on the Nigerians in Diaspora to assist the Commission with vital information about Nigerian looters, saying: “I am therefore calling on you to assist the EFCC in getting vital information about Nigerian looters who stash our stolen monies and properties in the United Kingdom and other foreign countries.
“Nigerians in Diaspora cannot afford to sit on the fence. They are closer to the scene of Crime, therefore, must play an active role in the war against graft and provide vital information to the EFCC that will assist in the recovery of our stolen wealth abroad.”
The anti-graft czar also bemoaned the challenges Nigeria is facing as a result of illegal movement of funds from Nigeria to other countries and the new techniques deployed by organised criminal groups in siphoning the wealth of this country to other countries, which according to him “constitute a severe and damaging drain on the Nigerian economy.”
“Organized criminal groups have developed intricate channels of illicit flows that deprived African economies of crucial resources for development, but we must continue to fight corrupt practices head-on,” Bawa added.
Nigeria is one of the African countries worst affected by Illicit Financial Flows (IFF). It is estimated that the country loses between $15 billion to $18 billion in such flows every year.
A report by Brookings Institution finds that the top four emitters of illicit flows – South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Nigeria – emit over 50 percent of total illicit financial flows from sub-Saharan Africa.
With Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves under pressure, the persistent trend of illicit flows has serious implications for the country’s development.