18th June, 2018
Benin City, Nigeria…The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, has said that the announcement by the UK government to a review of the legal requirements related to the publication of revenue from extractive industries and paid to governments across the world, is a stitch in time which will save Nigeria nine.
The Rev David Ugolor, ANEEJ executive director said that without a doubt, the UK has proven to be, through a track-record of legislation and policy, a global champion against corruption. First, it convened an anti-corruption summit in 2016 leading to a global coalition – the Open Government Partnership, – OGP, which is built on the values of zero-tolerance to corruption, access to information, citizen participation and fiscal responsibility.
‘Going forward, the UK also signed an MoU with the Nigerian government on the return of loot stashed in its domains and principalities, helped to convene a Global Forum on Asset Recovery, GFAR, and has put in place institutional mechanisms like the Unexplained Wealth Orders, UWO, to checkmate non-liquid assets accruing from illicit deals in the oil and gas sector of the Nigerian economy. And indeed what makes this latest review very significant is the fact that Nigeria has been at the receiving end of the monumental fraud perpetrated by international oil companies, IOCs and their cronies’, the Rev Ugolor said.
Prior to this review on the UK laws guiding monies paid to governments by extractive companies, modalities for the remittances of funds by IOCs are laden in obscurity and opaque practices. The case for Nigeria is particularly worrisome and this is because very senior officials connived with the IOCs and pocketed the proceeds from such unholy alliances. But while foreign government officials who colluded with the IOCs to defraud Nigeria have cooled their heels in jail, those from Nigeria are currently exploiting loopholes in the legal system against their own country.
The best known of these cases is the Malabu Scandal, https://www.naija.ng/1099151-malabu-oil-deal-see-9-nigerians-involved.html#1099151, wherein a former Energy minister used proxies to acquire an oil well and paid a paltry sum to the Nigerian government.
‘ANEEJ therefore calls on the Nigerian government to key into this UK review so as to carry out a re-assessment of its own legal frameworks and mechanisms and plug loopholes in our laws. Nigeria must pass the Proceeds of Crime Bill into law with post-haste speed. Doing that ensures that current negotiations between Nigeria on the one hand, and the US, the UK and France regarding the return of the $500million Abacha loot will speed up processes leading to the utilization and management of the returned loot. In addition, stakeholders must ensure that they abide by Article 13 of the UNCAC treaty of 2003 to ensure that there is enhanced transparency of and promoting the contribution of the public to the decision-making process, ensuring the public has access to information concerning assets being returned and undertaking public information activities that contribute to zero tolerance to corruption’, the Rev Ugolor has said.