Corruption and Underdevelopment

Anti-Corruption Day: CSOs express concerns over IFFs, corruption in Africa

By Paul Michael

All African chapters of the Transparency International has urged leaders of the African Union (AU) to provide additional measures to tackle Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and corruption in the continent.

The Organisations made the call in an open letter to mark Africa Anti-Corruption Day while reminding the African leaders of their anti-corruption commitments.

They highlighted their concerns over the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely affected the livelihoods of all African citizens and deepened inequalities, saying that extensive funds are needed to reverse these effects.

The groups, however, frowned that corruption threatens to divert money away from important areas like health care and food. They, therefore, called on States to open up procurement information, and sanction as well as prosecute any abuses of COVID-19 recovery funds.

It was alleged in the letter that tens of billions of dollars leave Africa every year in illicit funds, which is money that could be ploughed into essential public services for its people.

It calls on leaders to accelerate strategies to combat these illicit financial flows and roll out reforms such as “Know Your Customer” requirements and an end to secretive company structures.

While commending the near-universal ratification by African States of the AU Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption, the letter called the attention of the leaders to its poor translation into action at the national level.

“This is a critical moment for the African region and its people. If corruption is not addressed urgently, it will block efforts to rebuild after the devastating pandemic and the region’s hopes of charting a path to a stronger future. Fairly and transparently managing large-scale COVID-19 recovery funds and preventing billions of dollars from illegally exiting the region through illicit means should be top issues for all leaders. On this Africa Anti-Corruption Day, we need the AU and governments of African states to heed the experts and action strong, decisive anti-corruption reforms,” Rueben Lifuka, vice-chair of TI said.

Meanwhile, Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria led by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), said Nigeria is rated as the highest Illicit Financial Flow (IFF) offender in the African continent with an estimated sum of $18 billion, based on the African Union High Level panel on IFF led by Thabo Mbeki.

The group also, said it had become pertinent for all anti-corruption agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders, to ensure the full application of the IFF laws.

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The CSOs made the disclosure following this year’s anti-corruption day celebration, which is the sixth edition with the theme, ‘Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of Covid-19 Funds.’

They therefore, reminded the government on the need to be transparent on its expenditures.

According to the group, a good example abounds in the lingering fuel scarcity which has lasted for months despite the huge sums set aside for subsidy payments.

They further remarked that this year’s celebration is a good time to remind INEC, anti-graft agencies and law enforcement agencies of their role in enabling a free and fair elections devoid of dirty money and vote trading, as we approach 2023.

They recalled that Accountant General of the federation had three (3) different individuals acting in the capacity in less than 2 months, while the numerous allegations against the previous two, citizens demand answers.

“The government should not sweep the matter under the carpet,” they warned.

They demanded the investigation of the “deteriorating security situation bedevilling the country, the latest which is the Kuje prison break.”

“Recent discoveries of huge sums in the residence of military contractors needs to be investigated to its logical conclusion. Funds meant for securing the lives and properties of Nigerians shouldn’t be diverted,” they added.

A called on the anti-graft agencies to be very professional in their actions, fair and respect human rights as well as desist from seeking media trial and sensational reporting.

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