Corruption and Underdevelopment

‘Nigeria making progress in fighting illlcit financial flows’

By Paul Michael, Abuja

Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has stated that Nigeria is making progress in the stoppage of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) by the implementation of advisories proffered by the Inter-Agency Committee to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Mr Hassan Salihu, an ICPC Assistant Commissioner, made the disclosure at a Focus Group Discussion on Political Integrity and Illicit Financial Flows, that was recently organised in Keffi, Nassarawa State by Transparency International (TI), Nigerian Chapter.

Mr Salihu stressed that ICPC plays a major role in fighting IFFs and as part of its preventive mandate, had deployed several activities/interventions aimed at combating IFFs from Nigeria in a project tagged “Project IFFs”.

During his remarks, Executive Secretary of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Head of TI, Nigeria, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani stated that “In Nigeria, the ever-increasing problem of dirty money in politics, which suggests a high level of impunity among politically exposed persons who seek to gain power and accrue wealth through illegal means, has been a growing concern within local and international domain.”

Comrade Rafsanjani stressed that “There is correlation between political accountability and illicit financial flows. Experts have estimated that Nigeria loses about $18Billion USD annually to illicit financial flows, which reportedly account for roughly 30% of Africa’s loss to IFF.”

A member of the Inter-Agency Committee on IFFs and staff of ICPC, Joy Esu Mbang, further stressed that the Committee had issued advisories on issues propelling IFFs such as tax exemptions, contracts denominated in foreign currencies by MDAs, and is enforcing such implementation of advisories.

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According to Mbang, the advisory forwarded to the government by the Inter-Agency Committee after the review of the “Report of IFFs in Relation to Tax” saw to the issuance of a circular on 10th March 2021 by the Hon Minister of Finance with the caption “Tax Exemptions”.

She added that amongst the items listed in the circular was the directives to government agencies that they do not have any authority to grant tax exemptions to parties with whom they enter into contracts.

“The same circular also has another caption, ‘Contracts Denominated in Foreign Currencies’ and stated that MDAs are to ensure that their contracts are wholly denominated in Nigerian Naira (NGN). No MDA is authorised to enter into contract denominated in any foreign currency without the prior approval of the HMF&NP,” she added.

Mbang added that plans were ongoing for the development of homegrown technology in a collaboration between the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA) and the Federal Ministries of Education to mobilize stakeholders against IFFs.

Papers presented for discussion around the IFFs included Political Integrity and IFFs: Case Study of Pandora Paper by Mr. Hassan Taiwo, Editor & Head of Investigation & Data of Premium Times; and IFFs and its Effects on Public Resource Management by Mr Lukman Adefolayan, Convener 21st Century Abuja.

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