Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has said that Nigeria has demonstrated the workability of application of returned looted assets for sustainable development.
Malami disclosed this in his remarks at a High-Level side event on ”Food Security Response: Combating Illicit Financial Flows and Securing Asset Returns for Sustainable Development’‘, on the margins of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly.
Malami said in 2017, the 322 million dollars recovered looted assets from Swissland laid the solid foundation of getting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
He said it got millions out of poverty through the Social Investment Programmes that include National Homegrown School Feeding Programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, N-Power job creation and youth empowerment programme and National Social Safety Net programme, amongst others.
Malami said that Food Security Response was placed on top of Africa’s 2022 agenda to align with the Global Sustainable Development Goal “to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030.
He noted that crisis experienced in the globe as well as onslaughts of terrorism and criminality continued to exacerbate challenges to world peace posed by starvation, malnutrition, diseases, climate change which he said continue to contribute to a worsening global economy.
“Indeed, these challenges are truly interlocking and have put our collective ability to devise innovative solutions to the test”.
While highlighting the nexus between illicit financial flows and food security, Malami cited reports from law enforcement agencies especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that showed that IFFS undermine efforts to development including food security.
He said that the Federal Government has put in place laws and frameworks to address IFFs, noting that this year, President Muhammad Buhari has signed the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Act, (2022), the Proceed of Crimes Act among others.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), however, stressed the imperative of international support and cross-border collaboration in implementing measures to combat illicit financial flows.
According to the AGF, “transformative solutions to the thorny issues of International Financial Follows (IFFs), looting, internet-related crimes and other threats to global economic growth and development, necessarily require international collaboration and cross-border cooperation of all stakeholders”.
Malami recall that in response to the threat posed by IFFs, the United Nations General Assembly, since its 72nd Session, placed the “promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on assets return to foster sustainable development” on its agenda item 16 (d).
He noted that African Continent bears the major consequences of IFFs, which has continued to derail its journey towards the African Union’s Agenda 2063 that envisions “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.
According to Malami, the vision, can only be realised when the key to life, ‘nourishment’ is guaranteed and secured maintaining that “tackling illicit financial flows, in terms of blocking the leakages and recovery of looted assets, will open the door to releasing the much-needed investment in productive sectors, inclusive of food security”.
In her remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria, Gloria Akobundu said, “the forum was adopted in 2018 as an annual event with the objective to promote peer-to-peer learning for best practices and strengthen partnership for good governance.
“If Africa’s population and land space are credibly and productively harnessed, it will not only address these challenges but will be a turnaround for world economic boost and sustainable development.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that President Muhammadu Buhari attended the event and spoke on ways to address corruption in the continent.