Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has called on African countries to partner one another in the fight against corruption and Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in their quest for socio-economic development.
He spoke on Tuesday during the 20th anniversary of the African Regional Webinar of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
It had the theme, “Combating Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows: New Measures and Strategies.”
The VP, who addressed the session virtually from the State House, Abuja, told the participants that corruption remained a key obstacle to development on the continent and other developing economies.
He stated that there was an international conspiracy of the big economies with those stealing the resources of Africa and other developing nations.
The VP stated, “The theme of this webinar: ‘Combating Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows: New Measures and Strategies’, I think, again just reminds us that corruption remains a scourge to our development aspirations and has become for us in the developing world, an existential issue.
“Over the years, massive public resources and assets have been directly stolen, diverted, deliberately misapplied to gratify corrupt tendencies, stashed in foreign jurisdictions or mired in and susceptible to pilferage by the inequitable and unjust international economic system that continues to undermine the social and economic development aspirations of poor countries especially from Africa.
“Without effectively combating corruption and IFFs and promoting international cooperation for asset recovery and asset return, Africa cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 16 of the SDGs is devoted to corruption. Specifically, Target 16.4 commits that: ‘By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial flows and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organised crime.”
He cited the case of the wall of secret of corporate ownership, which Osinbajo said must be broken to allow for development to take place in Africa.
According to him, secrecy provides a convenient cover for criminality and corruption, arguing that some countries still resist moves to stem the tide of illicit financial flows.
He added, “For us in the developing world and especially in Africa, breaking the wall of secret corporate ownership is crucial because secrecy around corporate ownership is implicated in our underdevelopment.
“Our experience in Nigeria as in other developing countries is that anonymous corporate ownership covers a multitude of sins including conflict of interests, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and even terrorism financing.”
For Nigeria, the VP stated that President Muhammadu Buhari had shown the zeal to fight corruption by supporting the ICPC to do its work.
He explained, “We have seen that demonstrable political will and that political will has afforded all our anti-corruption agencies the latitude to do their work without interference.”
He also spoke on what Nigeria had done to stem IFFs and the efforts to pursue the recovery of looted funds
Osinbajo added, “As the AU Champion on Anti-Corruption, President Buhari in his report to the Assembly of the Union, Thirty-Second Ordinary Session and at the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, affirmed Nigeria’s commitment to continue to ‘advocate for the facilitation of recovery of illicit financial assets.’
“Towards this end, Nigeria proposed the Draft Common African Position on Asset Return (CAPAR) at the 36th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU in February 2020 at which the CAPAR was adopted. I am aware that Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman ICPC was a member of the Working Group that produced the CAPAR.”