UK backs Nigeria, says there would be no safe haven for corrupt officials

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[Abuja]–The British Government has declared support for the Nigerian Federal Government by giving to them, information about Nigerians who own property in that country next year, NAN reports.

This was disclosed by Prof. Bolaji Owosanoye, Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, who said that negotiations on this had reached advanced stage.

Owosanoye said the measure being taken by the governments of both countries was a step forward in the fight against corruption.

“There’s no doubt that rogues in government oppress and impoverish their people by corruption and this must be sanctioned by collective action.

“We need to make sure that there is no safe haven for you (corrupt officials) to run to.

“Britain has promised that by 2018, she will provide Nigeria with the information about who owns what and where; that’s very helpful.

She added that the information would include all the houses that have been bought by public officials or accounts that are held by public officials on which they are right now not paying taxes or which they cannot explain the sources.

“So if you cannot buy a house in England, you have to look for somewhere else.

“But if all countries criminalise this, then it becomes much more difficult unless you want to buy the house on Mars,” he said.

The presidential aide also explained that Nigeria and other African countries, who are victims of illicit financial flows, must challenge developed countries to block illicit financial flows from developing countries.

“Receiving states – the countries of the North – need to be proactive to block the proceeds of crime even before a request is made by victim countries.

“This is because, in many situations, it is clear that illegality is taking place.

“We think that reversing the burden of proof to improve the confiscation of criminal proceeds of crime would help, especially when we are going after the asset and not necessarily the person.

“If the person who claims to own the asset would not cooperate in giving information, then this should be a point in favour of the state,” Owosanoye said.

He contended that the burden of proof for criminal proceeds should shift to the suspect and not the government, citing the case of a former Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).




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