By SONI DANIEL, REGIONAL EDITOR, NORTH
ABUJA— Shrewd Nigerian fuel importers who have hidden stolen money in British banks may soon lick their wounds, as the slush funds may be repatriated to Nigeria on the order of the courts.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has secured a restraining order on the United Kingdom, UK, accounts of fraudsters of fuel subsidy regime and is merely formalizing ways to getting the funds forfeited to Nigeria.
Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde announced the development when the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Andrew Pocock, paid a visit to the Commission in Abuja.
Lamorde described the restraining order secured by the Commission in the UK as as a result of the “wonderful relationship” the Commission has enjoyed and still enjoying from the UK.
He told the British envoy, “we want to use this opportunity to thank your staff for the wonderful relationship we have enjoyed. Recently, we have had support in respect of the fuel subsidy investigation.
“The UK-sponsored Justice 4 All, J4ALL, paid for forensic accountant that assisted the Commission on the investigation that nailed those accused in the fuel subsidy fraud. The UK authorities helped to restrain some funds belonging to the fuel subsidy suspects in the UK.
“We are formalizing ways to get the funds forfeited and repatriated to Nigeria. We want the support to continue”, Lamorde declared.
Lamorde thanked the UK government for the wonderful support and cooperation that the country had extended to Nigeria since the inception of the commission and said that the EFCC would not disappoint in the fight against graft.
“From the inception of the EFCC, if there is any country that has supported EFCC, it’s the UK. The EFCC has benefited not only in terms of joint tactical and operational activities like collaboration with the Interpol, City of London police, Serious Organised Crime Agency, SOCA, but also in the area of capacity building.
Worried about corruption in Nigeria
Explaining Britain’s special interest in Nigeria, Dr. Pocock, who was accompanied on the visit by Hooman Nouruzi, Steve Foster and Catherine Weiss, said that his country sees a future in Nigeria.
According to Pocock, “this interest in Nigeria is not only because we are friends of Nigeria, partners of Nigeria but we see a future in this country that is extra ordinary; Nigeria is one of those countries with great potentials”.
He, however, described corruption in Nigeria as ‘something that has impacted negatively on the lives of Nigerians, the government and economy of the country on a daily basis.
According to the envoy, with over 30 years of military rule in Nigeria, public infrastructure, tendering, allocation and delivery system have been at its lowest ebb.
Corruption has trippled cost of infrastructure
He said that because of corruption in allocation and delivery process, cost of infrastructure in Nigeria has been three times higher than it ought to be. This he said was responsible for the poor service delivery to the Nigeria people.
“After 30 years, Nigeria has not been able to improve on the 5,000 megawatts generation of electricity supply. You can see the direct consequences of the impact of corruption in the Nigeria economy and the Nigeria state”.
Mr Pocock, however, said that if Nigeria got it right in the power sector privatization programme, “the country is going to be on the verge of an industrial revolution because it is going to boost its productivity and GDP to at least 40 percent”.