With regards to the comments by the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, that Nigeria was "fantastically corrupt" Ibrahim Mahu, Nigeria's anti-corruption chief, said proceeds from the sale of stolen Nigerian oil were among the funds routed through the UK. “London is the capital of money-laundering,”
“Over the years 2014 to 2015, they [the old administration] brought in not less than $37bn into London from Nigeria. They take away oil, and they route the money through London - we suspect not less than $37bn.”
Mahu said his hardest task was the resistance faced by Buhari’s administration. “We need to put our heads together, and get our act together to fight corruption. Corruption fighting back - I think that is the most difficult obstacle. When they fight back, they fight from all angles.
“The president is committed to fighting corruption - that is our strength. He’s not just pretending.”
President Buhari called at the Anti corruption summit held in London on 11th March 2016, for a multi-state agency to combat what he described as the hydra-headed menace of corruption. He announced that Nigeria would be joining the Open Government Partnership, an international body designed to make the activities of government more transparent, including over public procurement.
President Buhari said illicit oil theft involving international and domestic perpetrators needed to be seen as a crime on a similar level as the stealing of blood diamonds. He called for Lloyd’s of London to do more to trace ships loaded with crude oil and for greater transparency in commodity trading.
Oil theft, he said, was an imminent and credible threat to oil-producing countries such as Nigeria.
He said the oil was certainly traceable if the international community showed the required political will to end criminal trading. “This will has been the missing link in the international effort. Now in London we can turn a new page by building a multi-state multi-stakeholder partnership to address this menace.”
Pointing out that both BP and Shell had been there at the start of the Nigerian oil industry, he said many of these companies knew key players in the industry, and could help fight corruption.
President Buhari said any country that thought it was safe from the international cartels of corruption “needed to wake up”.
He told the conference: “We need an international anti-corruption infrastructure that can monitor trace and facilitate the return of assets to the countries of origin. The repatriation of proven stolen assets should be done without delay or precondition.”
Chukwuka Utazi, a Nigerian senator who chairs a committee on financial crimes and corruption, said that Cameron was a hypocrite and dismissed the summit as a “talking shop”.
“Let these governments return all these stolen funds in London, then we can believe what he is saying. If he just comes here and makes guarded statements like he did yesterday, we as a nation are not happy about it.
“Great Britain, as a great ally of Nigeria, should do better than they’re doing for this country. Hypocritical - that’s just the word.
“It takes two to tango. The problem of this country [UK] is in receiving stolen assets, ill-gotten money, and keeping it here, and telling our country that they’re not doing the right thing is not the way to solve the problem.”
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