By Chimezie Godfrey
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa has urged the National Assembly to upgrade the procurement laws in the country to prevent looting and illicit financial flows.
Musa made the call Wednesday in Abuja, while briefing Journalists on what he tagged as,”How Nigeria Should Prevent Looting of Funds and Losing Abroad.”
He said the P&ID case which Nigeria is to pay $6.6billion in damages plus interest of 7% per year awarded by the International Tribunal in the UK was due to lack of transparency, incompetency and corruption in the procurement processes.
Musa said that despite number of red flags of corruption relating to the contract since 2010, successive Nigerian governments did not raise the issue of corruption in its defence in the international arbitration.
According to him, some of the red flags include lack of transparency in procurement, doubts whether the arbitration was contested by the Nigerian government, and why Nigeria delays in raising its suspicions of corruption.
He lamented that it is a double tragedy for Nigeria that public officials who took looted funds abroad had no access to such funds.
He therefore stressed the need for the country’s procurement laws to be strengthened, adding that this will prevent the looting and losing of the nation’s resources.
“From the evidence available to us, it seems that no proper planning and tender process was conducted in a multi-billion dollar deal.
“It is evident that the commercial terms of the agreement represented a catastrophic value for money from a Nigerian perspective.
“If Nigeria had had a clearer and more robust set of laws and processes around public procurement, such a deal would have never happened.
“Public procurement laws and procedures need to be upgraded, made unconditionally public and be rigorously enforced,” he stressed.
The CISLAC Executive Director lamented that it is double tragedy for Nigeria that corrupt public officials are denied access to looted funds taken abroad.
Musa who decried lack of transparency in the management of recovered assets in the country, commended the Ministry of Justice for the establishment of the Data Base on Recovered Asset and the Central Criminal Justice Reformation System.
Musa said this will contribute to transparency in the recovery and management of stolen assets in the country,
He further challenged President Buhsri and the Ministry of Justice to clarify if the database is publicly accessible to all stakeholders including citizens, among others.
“While this announcement is a step in the right direction, I challenge the President and the Ministry of Justice to clarify if:
“The database is publicly accessible to all stakeholders including ordinary citizens.
“The database includes domestically recovered assets where risks of mismanagement and re-looting have been far greater compared to international recoveries.
“And how the numerous agencies with the mandate to recover assets will comply in the continued absence of the Proceeds of Crime Bill.
“Only these steps can ensure that all the agencies that recovered assets harmonize their procedures while regularly updating the data,” he stressed.
According to him, the management of these assets must be entrusted to people with integrity to prevent public officials using these assets for their political objectives and personal enrichment
Musa reiterated that Nigeria will continue suffering from scams and enormous wealth disappearing abroad if no effective prevention is put in place to reduce illicit financial flows.
He urged Nigerians to keep holding the corrupt officials accountable for the lack of prevention of corruption, money laundering and illicit financial flows along with their Nigerian and international enablers.