President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that the Federal Government is committed to winning the war against corruption in Nigeria.
The President spoke in New York at the African Union High-Level Dialogue with the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.’’
The president was unanimously endorsed by AU leaders in January to champion the commission’s theme for 2018.
Buhari commended African leaders for the honour bestowed on him to champion the course of fighting corruption in Africa in 2018 and beyond.
The president, however, urged African leaders to also remain committed to the fight against corruption to ensure rapid development of the continent.
According to Buhari, Africa loses about 50 billion dollars to illicit financial flow annually.
“Illicit financial flow out of the continent has become a major concern because of the scale of its negative effects on economic development and governance agenda.
“Some of the effects of corruption include draining of foreign exchange reserves, reduction of tax revenue collection, poor investment inflow and escalation of poverty,” he said.
He said that efforts were being made by African leaders to checkmate the illicit financial flow from the continent
Buhari said that one of the measures necessary if Africa was to make headway in the fight against corruption, was to evolve laws and policies which encourage transparent financial transactions.
He said that another measure was to ensure implementation of measures that would mitigate the incentive that facilitate the illegal outflow of funds from the continent.
The president called on the leaders to organise African youth conferences against corruption in order to sensitise the youth on the fight against corruption
He also called for the mobilisation of African Union member states to implement the convention on combating corruption.
The president advocated the strengthening of the criminal justice system against corruption and boost exchange of information sharing best practices in the fight against corruption.
The AU Chair person, Mousa Faki, commended Buhari for his resolve to fight corruption, stressing that it was not by accident that he was appointed to champion the campaign.
Faki described corruption as a cancer that had eaten deep into the fabric of the continent.
He said corruption and illicit financial flow had hindered investment and deterred the growth of the continent.
“Corruption in all dimensions discourages investment flow, creates inequality, escalates poverty and increases public expenditure,” he said.
Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu, warned looters of the country’s treasury to voluntarily return stolen funds and assets or face prosecution.
Magu, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York, described corruption as “an evil that would not be tolerated.’’
He said: “All of them (looters) should return all the looted funds and join us in the fight against corruption because it is important.
“All of us have a responsibility in the fight against corruption, whether you are corrupt or not.
“But my take is that they should return all the stolen funds and we can see what we can do.’’
The anti-corruption chief, however, warned that if looters decide to remain adamant, the law would catch up with them.
“We would prosecute them, we would get them, no matter how long it would take, we would get them; I’m telling you.
“Corruption is an evil that affects all of us. So we should join hands to eradicate it,” he said.
He also said that there was hope that Africa would win the war against corruption if there was collaboration among the anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies through “timely intelligence.”