Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: U.S. Narcotics Officer Seeks Speedy Prosecution of Corrupt Nigerians

Ms Diane Kohn, a United States narcotics officer, on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to step up efforts at prosecuting corrupt officials in the country.

Kohn, an International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Officer in the U.S Embassy in Nigeria, gave the advice at a news conference on "U.S. anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria" organised by the embassy in Abuja.

She advised the government to make deliberate efforts at prosecuting Nigerians found guilty of corruption.

"The best known example is James Ibori; the fact that he was only prosecuted successfully in the UK; he was not brought to justice in his own country where the crime was committed.

"There are other cases like that we see public officials with houses in London, in the United States; there are a few of them that the Department of Justice is looking at.

"If you look at the number of high profile cases that have come to conviction where assets have been recovered, there are not very many of them.

"When corruption takes money out of your economy, it is also taking money away from your security.

"It also takes away economic opportunities for young people and as we have seen, when young people do not have economic opportunities that is legitimate, they would go for whatever opportunities that present themselves.

"There could be 419 scheme; they could be drug trafficking; they could be human trafficking; there could be getting involved with extremist organisation or just regular organised crime.

"There are so many different criminal organisations that are willing to take on young people and teach them how to do the business."

Kohn explained that corruption had an adverse effect on the economy and reiterated the commitment of the U.S government to assist Nigeria to stem the malaise.

She added that the commitment to the fight against corruption would be in line with the United Nations' Convention Against Corruption.

"The community of Nations has agreed that this is a problem.

"They have agreed that what the standards should be for transparency, for criminal codes, for criminal enforcement and for international cooperation.

"We are hoping that as time goes on we can work more closely with Nigeria to help confront this but that means Nigeria has to be willing to go after the corrupt officials.

"We know that it is a tough thing to do but if Nigeria wants to really progress along that's what going to have to happen and if that is the case, we are willing to help."

The U.S. embassy official said corruption was a global challenge and that the international community was willing to assist Nigeria where necessary in the fight against the malaise.

Kohn said that the U.S. would work with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption organisations to improve investigative abilities toward prosecution of cases.

She said that would involve training of officials and judges in investigation, presentation and prosecution of cases of corruption.

She also advised Nigerians to cooperate with anticorruption agencies to fight corruption and support the course of civil society organisations in the fight against the vice.

According to her, the media cannot relent in its war against corruption through the sharing of information obtained through investigation.

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