Nigeria has renewed calls for the international community to ensure the return of stolen funds and assets illicitly stashed abroad in order for the country to utilise it for development purposes.
Nigeria’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, made the call at a seminar on Combating Illicit Financial Flows and Enhancing Assets Recovery in New York.
The seminar, the third in a series, was organised by the Permanent Missions of Nigeria and Norway to the UN.
Muhammad-Bande aptly linked the realisation of sustainable development to combating illicit financial flows and called on Member States to scale up cooperation in this aspect.
The Nigerian envoy, therefore, challenged the global community to “stop, track, and get the illicit assets returned for their judicious use by the Nigerian Government”.
“The significance of the subject under consideration is that there is still a lot more to know and to do in achieving our aim as members of the international community in this important matter.
“The global community is focusing on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“However, without addressing the twin issues of illicit financial flows and assets recovery, our collective aspiration to harness domestic resources to finance the sustainable development goals will remain a dream for many countries, especially in the developing world.
“The realisation of the organic link between combating illicit financial flows and strengthening assets recovery, and achieving our ambitious 2030 Agenda informed the discourse today: “Illicit Financial Flows: Stop It, Track It, Get It and Use It”.”
The Nigerian envoy noted that the seminar came less than two weeks after the missions held the second edition of the advocacy and awareness seminar recently.
The Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Norway to the UN, Geir Pederson, agreed with his Nigerian colleague that stolen wealth from countries of origin was contributing to underdevelopment.
The Norwegian envoy, however, said one country could not achieve the agenda but a collaboration that must involve all countries and international actors.
“Illicit financial flows have a lot of negative effects of the 2030 Agenda. There is the need for political will at the national and international level.
“Norway and Nigeria are pushing it forward as an international agenda. International cooperation involves sharing information and best practices.
“It is important to get international institutions together to discuss illicit financial flows because we have a lot of best practices.
“There is ample evidence that there is the need to do more. If we do that, we will be successful before 2030,” Pederson said.
NAN reports that among participants at the event were representatives of Switzerland, Norway, Mexico, India and notable international experts on financial, assets recovery and development matters.
They were from the World Bank, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative, and the UN Economic Commission for Africa.
The UN General Assembly in December unanimously adopted Nigeria-sponsored resolution on: “Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows” in order to foster sustainable development.
The resolution was strongly supported at various levels by the African Group and the G-77 including China.
The resolution reiterated “deep concern about the impact of illicit financial flows, in particular those caused by tax evasion and corruption, on the economic, social and political stability and development of societies”.