Money laundering is a
global phenomenon that is not restricted to Nigeria. It is more prevalent where there is systemic failure, bad governance and poor value orientation.
This accounts for the reason President Muhammadu Buhari and 59 other world leaders agreed to sign a pact on the sanctions to be imposed on corrupt political and public office holders.
The agreement which is expected to be signed in United Kingdom will among other things, check the high rate of looting and money laundering around the world 60 countries are involved in the deal.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), who spoke to journalists about the agreement, said some of the sanctions include travel restriction or denial of entry visa into the 60 countries, rejection of request for political asylum by corrupt political and public office holders, likely loss of citizenship while culprit will not be allowed to operate foreign accounts in any of the 60 nations.
The justice minister said the agreement would make it difficult for those stealing public funds in the country to escape abroad or operate slush accounts.
“The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is stepping up the fight against corruption. I am happy to bring to your notice that Nigeria and 59 other countries will enter into an agreement in May on the imposition of international sanctions against corrupt political and public office holders. This will take place at the 2016 international summit on anti-corruption in the UK. At the May summit, these 60 countries will agree on some sanctions against those who steal public funds or launder money”, Malami said.
According to him, “the affected countries will also design ways of sharing intelligence on corrupt officers and money launderers. We will all key into this understanding as part of the global action against corruption. With this development, there is no hiding place for any public office holder who steals funds in this country.
Malami also noted that Nigeria is being considered as the 2017 host of the international summit on anti-corruption.
As a measure to put an end to this hydra-headed menace called money laundering in the country, the Nigeria police sometimes ago indicted a former governor of Kwara State (name withheld) and some of his associates for money laundering and consequently recommended their prosecution.
In a report of its Special Fraud Unit (SFU) investigation into a petition dated September 11, 2011, addressed to the Inspector-General of Police, Joy Petroleum Limited alleged illegal withdrawal from its accounts by the then Intercontinental Bank Plc. The police found that the former governor and another person conspired to breach the money laundering Act.
In an interview with The Tide, a printer, Mr George Griffin, said that as Nigeria intensifies efforts at recovering all monies looted in the past, the government should not lose sight of the fact that there are some others in the present government who had been in one way or another involved in money laundering, , adding that no one should be spared or seen as a sacred cow in the money recovery exercise.”
According to him, it is regrettable that in spite of the various legislations against corruption in the country, it still persists as the legislations seen not to be helping the issues. There is the need now to review the existing corruption laws in the country to ensure greater operation, efficiency and deterrence.”
Griffin called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, (ICPC) to change the public perception that they are only engaged in prosecuting corrupt government officials because of the sentiments attached to it.
May Nigerians have commended the new anti-corruption drive by the Muhammadu Buhari administration, but called on the Federal Government to make judicious use of the recovered monies for the development of the country.
“There is infrastructural decay in the country, yearning for prompt attention, just as the citizens are wallowing in abject poverty and hunger. Nigerians are expecting better living condition from the out-come of the fight against corruption,: a civil servant Mrs Judith Amachree said.
Another source said, “we have refineries that need to be made function and produce petroleum products at higher capacities and we have the industrial sector that is crying for revival. If the Federal Government can use the recovered loots to take care of these areas there will be employment for the teeming jobless youths, and issue of restiveness will be over”.
It would be recalled that as part of the drive to recover the monies looted by Nigerians in the past, the United States (U.S.) has agreed to repatriate $480 million believed to have been stolen by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha and his family to Nigeria.
A source who did not want his name in print, told our correspondent that the Abacha family’s loot is the largest ever traced to a former Nigerian public officer in the United States, pointing out that the conditions for the repatriation of the cash and other details are being worked out.
It was also learnt that the Department of Justice in the US now has a kleptocracy unit, which will assist track looted funds and money laundered by public officials from Nigeria and other countries. The planned repatriation, according to the source, was the outcome of a recent meeting between US Department of Justice and Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu.
A highlight of the loot as published shows that the Abacha family and its associates are to forfeit over $550 million and #95,910 in 10 accounts and six investment portfolios linked to them in France, Britain, British virgin Islands and the United States.
So far, cash recovered from the Abacha loot are $226.3 from Liechtenstein, 7.5m euros from an associated company in Liechtenstein in 2011, #22.5m from Island of Jersey while $480m is expected to be repatriated from the United States.
Recently, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said it had received several documents from the World Bank totaling over 700 pages on information on the spending of recovered assets stolen by the late General Abacha, with some of the documents suggesting that Abacha loot was spent by the previous administrations on roads, electricity, education, health and water.
But a letter from Mr Rachid Benmessaoud of the SERAP revealed certain facts which raised more questions about what happened to Abacha loot.
Firstly, that Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Minister of Finance in a letter dated January 9,2005 explained to the World Bank that around $500 million of Abacha loot received from Switzerland was programmed into and spent in the 2004 and 2005 budgets on roads, etc, across all the 6 geo-political zones of Nigeria. Its breakdown showed that #18.60m was spent on roads, #10.83bn on health, #7bn on education, #6.20bn on water and #21.70bn on electricity. This shows that all the federal ministries had full details on the spending of repatriated Abacha loot.
But the big question is, if truly these recover monies were spent on these areas mention by the former minister of fiancé, why is Nigeria still suffering poverty are infrastructural decay?
Customs Intercepts N6, 974m Worth PMS
Barely two weeks after seizing a tank-full equivalent of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), known locally as petrol, the Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has intercepted 1005 jerry cans of the same product.
The product, amounting to 3000 litres, is with Duty Paid Value (DPV) worth of N6,974,750.00.
A statement signed by the Command’s Spokesman, DSC Hussaini Abdullahi, and made available to our correspondent in Lagos at the weekend, said the seizure was made during a routine check of the adjoining creeks, beaches, and flash points.
The statement quoted the Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Bello Mohammed Jibo, as saying that “as long as unrepentant and undesirable elements engage in acts of economic sabotage and smuggling, so shall officers and men remain a step ahead to counter their illicit trades”.
The statement further reads: “In continuation of our efforts to suppress smuggling of petroleum products within the nooks and crannies of the command, officers and men of the Seme Area Command on a routine patrol along the creeks within Seme and Badagry intercepted another large quantity of petroleum products in sacks.
“After successful evacuation of the said item to the command’s premises where examination was conducted, one thousand and five (1005)x 30 litres of jerry cans of petroleum products each, equivalent to thirty thousand, one hundred and fifty (30,150) litres were discovered. The Duty Paid Value (DPV) is Six million, nine hundred and seventy four thousand, seven hundred and fifty naira (N6,974,750.00), only”.
While showcasing the seized products, Jibo commended the doggedness, patriotism, dedication and high level of professionalism exhibited by his men, noting that the new Land Cruiser patrol vehicles (Buffalo) recently donated to commands by the Management of the NCS has aided the operation of the command, as the vehicles enhance access to a wider circle.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
NASS, MDAs’ Non-Remittance Of Taxes Cost FIRS N5.8bn …NCAA Tops Defaulters With N2,984bn
Non-remittance of tax deductions by the National Assembly, comprising the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies has resulted in a loss of tax revenue amounting to N5.8 billion by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in 2019.
Disclosing this in its 2019 Annual Report on non-compliance, internal control, and weakness issues in MDAs of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation said it is for the year ended December 31, 2019.
The MDAs, according to the Report, are the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Federal College of Freshwater Fisheries Technology, New Bussa; Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria; Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority; Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited; Hussaini Adamu Federal Polytechnic, Jigawa State; Federal Medical Centre, Keffi, Nasarawa State; Department of Petroleum Resources; National Assembly Service Commission; and Nigerian Correctional Services.
It stated that between 2018 and 2019, the MDAs failed to either remit one per cent stamp duty, value added tax, withholding tax or Pay As You Earn tax deducted from awarded contracts, thereby contravening sections of the Financial Regulations and Treasury Circular issued on December 29, 2015.
The Report further stated that Paragraph 234(I) of the Financial Regulations states that “it is mandatory for accounting officers to ensure full compliance with the dual roles of making provision for the Value Added Tax and withholding tax due on supply and services contract and actual remittance of same”.
Specifically, it quoted Paragraph 235, saying, “Deduction of VAT, WHT, and PAYE shall be remitted to Federal Inland Revenue Service at the same time the payee who is the subject of deduction is paid”.
It continued that the Treasury circular Ref No. TRY/A12&B12/2015 and OAGF/CAD/VOL.II/390, dated December 29, 2015, states that “1% Stamp Duty chargeable on contract awards and the remittance be made to the relevant tax authority (Federal Inland Revenue Service)”.
The Report also stated: “The audit observed that the sum of N5,828,621,715.06 was the amount of taxes not remitted by 12 Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has the highest amount of N2,984,887,250.00, while Federal College of Freshwater Fisheries Technology, New Bussa has the least amount of N1,021,011.13”.
NCS, Apapa Records N870,39bn Revenue Boost
The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) recorded an impressive performance in its revenue generation and anti-smuggling campaign in 2021.
Disclosing this recently during a review of its activities in 2021, the Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Yusuf Malanta, said the sum of N870.38 billion of the N2.24 trillion announced recently by the Service was collected in Apapa Command in 2021.
Giving an insight into the command’s revenue profile, Malanta told newsmen that the N870.38 billion collected by the command was 68 percent more than what was collected in 2020 which was N518.4 billion.
He stayed that the Command recorded 103 seizures worth N31 billion in 2021.
Malanta identified the seizures as 46.55kg of cocaine, which was concealed on board MV Karteria and MV Chayanee Naree laden with raw sugar; containers of foreign parboiled rice, tomato paste, secondhand clothes, unregistered pharmaceuticals such as captagon pills, tramadol, codeine syrup, etc.
“These were seizures made in accordance with the provisions of sections 46, 47, and 161 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP C45 LFN 2004. These seizures are condemned by a competent court of law and the suspects are still undergoing investigation and interrogation”, the Customs boss said.
He continued that 5.38 metric tons of non-oil commodities were exported through the command as against 1.3 million metric tons in 2020.
According to him, the Free on Board (FOB) value for the exported items rose from $340 million (N140 billion) in 2020 to $641 million (N264 billion) last year.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
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