Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend in Nouakchott, Mauritania, challenged countries hosting illicit funds to release them without observing long technicalities that hinder repatriation process.
A statement by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, last night, said the president made the call while making introductory remarks on the theme of the ongoing African Union (AU) summit, "Winning the Fight against Corruption, A Sustainable Path to Africa's Transformation," shortly before the commencement of debate on the "African Anti-Corruption Year."
Buhari was quoted as saying, "We must all collectively work to place high on the agenda the need for open and participatory government, as well as the repatriation of stolen assets without procedural technicalities and legal obstacles."
Adesina also said the president appraised the anti-corruption efforts so far, pointing out that, "During the last 6 months, we have engaged in multi-sectoral dialogue with a broad range of actors including parliamentarians, national anti-corruption agencies, civil society, media, youth and women groups and development partners.
"We have convened three different regional Consultative Workshops in line with my campaign programme in an effort to sensitise our people on the evil effects of corruption on our societies. These workshops will be extended to other regional blocs as we continue the fight against corruption in a bid to transform our continent."
He said the president also informed the gathering of his intention to partner with the AU Chairman and Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, in pushing the frontiers of the anti-corruption battle.
"I plan to convene the African Youth Congress in Abuja within the next quarter, and we will be working with the Chairman of the African Union, Paul Kagame and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, to organise an interactive dialogue on the theme at the next session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York during the high level segment," he was further quoted.
The statement added that Buhari used the opportunity of the summit to call on all other member states that are yet to ratify the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to take all necessary measures to sign and ratify it with a view to achieving its universal ratification during this calendar year as the Republic of Mauritius had done and thus becoming the 40th state party to the convention.
The statement added: "The President thanked African Heads of State and Government 'for the continued support provided to me in driving and amplifying the African Union anti-corruption agenda. Your unwavering support remains a strong source of strength and encouragement as we look forward to an even more vigorous second half of this year.'
"The AU theme of the year leader recalled that the meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council held under the chairmanship of Nigeria in April 2018 highlighted the corrosive effect that corruption can have on societies, considered the link between corruption and conflict and its implications for peace and security in Africa and concluded by emphasizing the need to utilise South-south cooperation mechanisms through voluntary information exchange, mutual legal assistance and sharing of best practices among national anti-corruption agencies, audit agencies and investigative bodies.
"President Buhari stressed that, 'the scourge of illicit financial flows continues to bite, eating back the gains and militating against the attainment of our aspirations under Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.' He reiterated Nigeria's abiding commitment to the fight against corruption."