The Human and Environmental Development Agenda has said assets and funds worth more than $400m (about N152 billion) stolen from Nigeria were stashed in the United Arab Emirates.
The leading anti-graft group explained that out of the 800 assets uncovered by investigators, 216 assets were linked to 13 top security officials, while the remaining 584 have been traced to public officials.
Olanrewaju Suraju, HEDA’s chairman, disclosed this on Tuesday at the public presentation of a report titled, ‘Fixing Illicit Financial Flows: A Critical Review of UK and UAE Policies, Laws and Practices in Financial and Non-Financial Institutions.’
He explained that the report was borne out of the need to review some of what they considered as loopholes in the laws and policies governing the financial and the non-financial system in the UK and the UAE and especially the concern over the rate at which illicit property and funds flowed from Nigeria to the UK and UAE.
Olarenwaju noted that several recent reports showed that between 2004 and 2013, Nigeria lost about $178 billion in illicit financial flow, saying it means the country is losing $17.8 billion annually to illicit financial flow.
“Of the 800 Nigerian stolen illicit assets lodged in UAE, 13 security officials own 216 of them while 584 of the remaining assets are owned by Nigerian public officials.
“So, the illicit financial flow does not just disappear; it goes to certain jurisdictions and the point is that UAE and UK are being shown to have a huge percentage of these funds. It is only natural that we review what is responsible, not just that we have politically exposed persons, even law enforcement officials are attracted to these jurisdictions.
“It is also something clear that the system there permits the flow of the illicit funds. We’ve painstakingly over the period of two years reviewed these laws and policies to see how it is possible for just 13 law enforcement officers in Nigeria to have about 216 property in the UAE,” he said.
Speaking at the summit, the Deputy Country Director, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, Dayo Olaide said while transparent elections remained a momentous step towards probity and good governance, it was disturbing that public enthusiasm towards election was fading.