International conference on illicit financial flow, asset recovery set to hold in Nigeria

Nigeria is set to hold the International Conference on Illicit Financial Flow (IFF) and Asset Recovery in the nation’s capital city, Abuja. The two day event will be declared open by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, with a welcome address by the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption ( PACAC Nigeria), Prof. Itse Sagay, at the State Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, State House, Abuja on Monday June 5, 2017.

The event will witness in attendance, Members of the National Assembly, Ministers, Top government functionaries, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Captains of Industries, Participants from across the globe. Notable amongst them are Mr. Akere Muna, Chairman, International Anti-Corruption Conference Council, former Vice-Chairman, Transparency International.

The event is an initiative aimed at mobilizing policy makers and experts in finance as well as other relevant fields, to ensure that recovered assets from corrupt and illicit means are channelled towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

In pursuance of the SDGs, the International Community is conducting a series of engagements and initiatives to ensure that Goals are met by 2030 through the adequate financial provisions by various countries especially developing countries. One of the goals through which this goal could be achieved is by ensuring that asset recovered as proceeds of corruption are returned to victim countries and channelled toward meeting SDGs by various social welfare and social protection projects.

The strategy by which donor countries intend to achieve the goal is by implementing Resolution 69/313 of the United Nations General Assembly of 27th July 2015 on strategies for financing social development projects towards meeting SDGs by 2030. The Agenda otherwise called the Financing for Development agenda is founded on the outcome of the Third International Conference on Finance for Development that took place in Addis Ababa which came up with resolutions described as Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

Following a recent International Expert meeting on Management and Disposal of Recovered and returned Stolen Assets, including in support of sustainable development , organised by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), and the Governments of Ethiopia and Switzerland, held in Addis Ababa from 14 to 16 February 2017, Nigeria was acknowledged as example of successful use of asset return of $700m by Switzerland for the NEEDS project and involvement of CSOs in planning and monitoring of social investment projects and use of  retuned asset.

Despite the internationally recognised integrity and transparency of the present government, and its determination to recover stolen public assets and fight corruption, it is seen that Nigeria has not frontally taken any initiative to make its voice heard within the international community in a structured way indicative of its views on stemming illicit financial flows in its wide ramifications, improving asset return and use of returned assets for sustainable development; ensure punishment for perpetrators of acts of corruption within national borders and beyond in a way that ensures that national legal systems due to inherent weaknesses are unable to punish perpetrators the international legal system will.
At the best, Nigeria has used other international platforms organized by other countries or entities to occasionally raise its voice.

Currently  Nigeria is the focal point at UNGA and also led the passage of Resolution on Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows in order to Foster Sustainable Development as part of the December 2016 President’s visit and address to UNGA in 2026.

Nigeria needs to advance this position by further activity. Other key reasons why this activity should be implemented are as follows; closing knowledge gap on illicit financial flows, enhancing Asset return Process, improving sanctions and enforcement as well as building on existing International resolution on IFF and Asset Return.

At the meeting, participants will brainstorm on major issues including; closing knowledge gap on illicit financial flows, enhancing Asset return Process, improving sanctions and enforcement, building on existing International Resolutions on IFF and Asset Return.

It is expected that the conference will come up with Resolutions on modalities promoting international cooperation in combating Illicit Financial Flows and enhancing Asset Recovery.

Furthermore, the conference will assist the delegates evaluate the role that appropriate use of returned assets can play in achieving sustainable development goals.

The Conference which will take three days is organised by the Office of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs.