The Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has rallied a global action against Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), including a call for global framework on IFFs similar to corruption.
Owasanoye made this call at a side event of the ongoing hybrid 54th Conference of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) taking place in Dakar, Senegal.
Mrs Azuka Ogugua, ICPC’s Spokesperson, in a statement in Abuja said that the conference would focus on regional efforts to track, recover and return stolen assets from Africa through the IFFs.
She said that the meeting was attended by representatives of member-countries of the Economic Community for Africa, heads of anti-corruption agencies and international bodies.
Addressing the meeting virtually, the ICPC boss emphasised the need for a global framework on IFFs as part of a determined commitment to tackle the menace.
“The challenge we found ourselves today is that the rules have always been skewed in favour of those who export capital and against those who import capital. Corruption is a global issue and we have a global framework on corruption.
“The IFFs is also a global issue but does not have a global framework.
“A way out of the problem is to institute a global framework on IFFs which, among others, will address the huge financial losses suffered by African countries,” the ICPC chairman stated.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war had complicated the financial resources of African countries, hence the need to tackle the IFFs and stop further hemorrhage of the financial resources on the continent.
Further to the global framework on IFFs, Owasanoye also proffered legal and policy measures that should be implemented by African countries to address the IFFs risk.
These legal and policy measures, according to the ICPC boss include, review of agreements entered into with Multinational Corporations (MNCs), review of inimical double taxation agreements.
Others are: enactment of laws, rules or regulations on unexplained wealth order or lifestyle audit, introduction of civil forfeiture of assets and beneficial ownership standards; and design of a framework for trans-digital transactions.
The ICPC chairman also advocated tougher measures against corrupt state officials who collude with the MNCs against their countries.
“African countries must understand that the MNCs split contracts.
“The juicy parts of the contracts with MNCs are domiciled in their home countries while the non-juicy parts of the contracts are domiciled in Africa.
“We need to deal with the MNCs’ collaboration by government officials who look the other way in international agreements,” he said.
Earlier in her remarks, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Rebecca Grynspan, said the global economy was under enormous stress due to COVID-19 pandemic, Russia–Ukraine war and climate change.
Grynspan noted that IFFs posed a huge challenge to African countries in realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We are aware of the increasing rates which make it more difficult and harder for African countries to access finance.
“The African economies are also feeling the impact of the Russia – Ukraine war and thereby widening the financing gap.
“Africa requires US$2.45 trillion to meet its SDG financing gap. We can close half of the SDG financing gap for Africa if we are able to curb IFFs.
“We therefore cannot continue to allow the billions of dollars of IFFs slipping out of Africa every year,” she said.
She added that, “The IFFs and Asset Recovery are more critical to Africa today. Both are required by African Countries to achieve the SDGs.”
She emphasised on the need for data and collaboration among African institutions like Customs and Central Banks as a necessary condition for tracking the IFFs.
The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument.
The convention’s far-reaching approach and mandatory character of many of its provisions make it a unique tool for developing a comprehensive response to a global problem.
The vast majority of United Nations Member States are parties to the convention.
Minister, CSO Want Justice System Reviewed
Stakeholders in the judicial system have called for a review of laws that punish the poor people far more often and more harshly than the wealthy, through pretrial detention and cash bail.
The stakeholders made the call at a national conference on justice system with the theme ‘Nigerian Criminal Justice System: The Criminalisation of Poverty in Nigeria’, in Abuja, last Thursday.
The conference was organised by a civil society organisation, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) to examine Nigeria’s dysfunctional criminal justice system, which they said unequally and disproportionately affected the poor and the most vulnerable in the society.
Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, said it was imperative to review the justice system to support people faced with economic obstacles, rather than incarcerating them.
Represented by an Assistant Legal Adviser in the ministry, Mrs Kenechi Umeh, Tallen frowned at laws that incarcerate people who are unable to pay debts, fines, bail bond, accentuate poverty rather than solve it.
“Criminalisation of petty offences such as prostitution, common nuisance, alms begging, street hawking, environmental offences and neighborhood disputes accentuate poverty among the poor and vulnerable.
“There is need to re-evaluate and improve awareness on the impact of the justice system as it relates to petty offences, including applying standards and principles of human rights in protecting the poor and promoting equality and fairness”, she said.
Tallen also advocated a well thought-out poverty alleviation programmes that entail technological skills acquisition, vocational training, micro-lending intervention solutions as panacea to poverty.
Also speaking at the conference, the Executive Director, RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma, said that the event was put together with a view to putting an end to the criminalisation of petty offences in Nigeria.
He said this was necessary because the criminal justice system in the country disproportionately affects the poor.
Nwanguma noted that there were situations where people were sent to jail for stealing yam while ‘big men’ who steal huge amount of money get away with their crimes.
He said, “The notion of criminalisation of poverty manifests more in law enforcement than other sectors.
“Whether it is the police providing security cover for the demolition of settlements inhabited by the poor who are thereby rendered homeless while the settlements from which they have been displaced are apportioned to the rich or task forces enforcing bans on street hawking or Okada riding, or on the use of pedestrian bridges.
“While it may be justifiable to demolish certain settlements or enforce certain bans, as long as the legal procedures are followed, the poor are often the victims of law enforcement excesses in the course of the enforcement of these state or federal laws or rules and regulations.
“The poor constitute the majority of those who end up in prison for being unable to pay bribes for bail at police stations’’.
The RULAAC Director also noted that the poor constitute the majority of persons awaiting trial and who may never have the chance to appear in court again after the initial arraignment, as they may be forgotten by the system.
“Petty crimes committed by the poor attract more law enforcement action than big crimes committed by the rich.
“More often, the rich have the means and ways and can hire Senior Advocates or buy their ways through.
“So, criminal justice in Nigeria, just like human rights violation, has a social class bias targeting mainly the poor and the most vulnerable in Nigeria.
“We think that the criminal justice system that criminalises the people needs to be addressed”, he added.
Nwanguma, therefore, said it was imperative to reform the judiciary system to become fair and just, while also ensuring speedy dispensation of justice and equal protection to both the poor and the rich, without discrimination.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, who spoke on the topic ‘Criminalisation of Poverty in Nigeria, the Dimension, Effects and Solutions’, said that criminal law and its institutions provide the framework to which lawful society defends itself and its values.
Odinkalu stressed the need to train the judiciary, decriminalise the polity and empower citizens to create a more egalitarian society.
Ondo Pastor In Police Net Over Kidnap Of 77 Persons
A pastor in one of the Pentecostal churches in Ondo State, David Anifowoshe, and his assistant have been arrested for allegedly kidnapping 77 persons.
The victims include 54 adults and 23 kids.
Anifowoshe, who is the pastor of Whole Bible Deliverance Church, located in Valentino Area of Ondo West Local Government Area of the state, was arrested by the police when some people in the neighbourhood raised an alarm.
According to sources in the area, the victims were found in an underground apartment of the church last Friday evening.
The Tide learnt that the pastor and his assistant camped the victims in the church under the pretence that they were waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Parents of the children were said to have forcefully mobilised themselves to the church, inviting the police to arrest the pastor and his assistant.
Some of the children and their parents were also said to be attending the church prior to the incident.
According to sources, the police promptly stepped into the situation by arresting the culprit and other members of the church following a tip-off by parents who reported the case to the police in Ondo town.
The incident has also gone viral on social media. In a 40-second video, children were seen in a patrol vehicle of the police who rescued them.
“They have kidnapped children found in the underground cell of a church in the Valentino Area of Ondo. The pastor and some members of the church have been arrested and were also in the patrol van of the police”, a voice said in the video.
Ondo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Funmilayo Odunlami, who confirmed the incident while briefing journalists in Akure, said the parents raised the alarm and the police sprang into action.
Odunlami urged the people to remain calm, assuring that the command had begun proper investigation into the matter “and the mystery behind the crime would be unraveled”.
Sen Akwashiki Donates N10m To CAN
Senator Godiya Akwashiki (APC-Nasarawa North) has donated N10 million to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Nasarawa North Chapter.
This, he said, was to enable them purchase land and 18- seater bus for the association to offer special prayers for the nation and perform its work effectively.
Akwashiki, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity made the donation at the end of a three-day CAN Summit in Akwanga on Sunday.
He said that the donation was part of his continued commitment to the development of the church and the society at large.
“I have heard your request on land for your permanent secretariat, a bus and office equipment to enable the association function effectively.
“I want to give you N5 million for the purchase of land and N5 million for the purchase of 18-seater bus, making N10 million.
“If you bought the land, I want you to start the foundation immediately as I will continue to support religious activities to succeed,” he said.
Akwashiki assured of his continued commitment to provide infrastructure across his senatorial district for improved standard of living.
“I will continue to provide roads, electricity, hospitals, schools, empowerment and employment, among others, in order to make you and other people happy at all times,” he said.
The lawmaker however advised the CAN leadership to carry all members of the association along while taking decisions concerning the association.
“I want to advise that you consult well if you want to take any decision concerning CAN,” he said.
The senator urged them to pray for him to succeed as well as to pray for unity and peace of the country.
Earlier, Rev. Ogbonna Akuma, the CAN Chairman, said that the summit was aimed at uniting and promoting peace amongst members of the association.
He restated their continued commitment to preach the message of unity, peace, progress and development to its members and other Nigerians at all times.
The chairman appreciated Akwashiki and other personalities for their positive contributions to the development of the church and the society at large.
He, however, identified their challenges to include land, bus and office equipment, among others.
The Tide source reports that the summit featured presentation of merit awards to Akwashiki; Sen. John Danboyi; Mr David Abuluya, President, Eggon Cultural and Development Association (ECDA); and Chief Adams Nangba, the District Head of Wakama, among others .
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