Nigeria has called for strengthened global cooperation to combat the menace of illicit financial flows so as to stem the destabilising effects on the development of societies.

Nigeria’s Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Samson Itegboje, stated this at a workshop on: “How do assets return contribute to the implementation of the SDGs”.

The event was co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to the United Nations.

Itegboje said in view of the destabilising effects that illicit financial flows have on the developing countries, something urgently must be done to curb it by the source and recipient countries.

He said: “Nigeria and some other delegations have consistently been making efforts to emphasise the need to strengthen international cooperation on assets recovery and their return to countries of origin.

“This, we believe, can meaningfully contribute to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“To this extent, we enjoin destination countries to demonstrate the necessary political will to address the seemingly intractable issue of assets recovery.

“This is by sharing information, reducing bureaucracy and facilitating the return of stolen assets to origin countries in order to ensure the implementation of the SDGs’’.

Itegboje said the broader picture of strengthening international cooperation on the issue would be the positive impact of returned stolen assets for better and more fruitful livelihoods.

He cautioned against focusing on the difficult conditionality, which he said, may hinder the progress of developing countries in the long run.

He acknowledged the cooperation that Nigeria had received from the Governments of Switzerland and the UK in their bid to combat illicit financial flows and enhance assets recovery.

“We the co-hosts are sending a strong signal of a strong cross-regional alliance to make progress on illicit financial flows and assets recovery,’’ he said.

The Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption, Prof Bolaji Owosanoye, said Nigeria was committed to fulfilling its part of the global commitment against corruption.

“Nigeria has a record of making good on obligations to international development partners, even where sub-units of government or disobedient MDAs breach agreement or perpetuate corruption.

“Nigeria is making good on promise towards restitution of funds corruptly taken from Global Fund by rogue elements entrusted with implementation.

“Nevertheless, prevention being better than cure, the government agreed to details of implementation in the Swiss-Federal Government of Nigeria-World Bank return of Abacha loot,’’ Owosanoye said.

Speakers and panellists at the event included Mr Admasu Nebebe, State Minister for Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Ethiopia; and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN, Ms Kira Azucena.

The others were Ms Indira Konjhodzic, World Bank’s Country Programme Coordinator for Nigeria and West Africa Regional Integration Programme as well as Mr Nick Dyer, Director General, Economic Development and International, UK Department for International Development.

Amb. Pio Wennubst, Assistant Director-General, and Head, Global Cooperation Department, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation also spoke at the event titled: “The Abacha II Restitution”.

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