Benin City, Nigeria, 6 April 2016.
Following the global outrage that have trailed the startling revelations in the Panama Papers of financial corruption around the globe, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) an anti-corruption watchdog has called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to immediately order the investigation of all Nigerians implicated in the report.
ANEEJ in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor said the Panama Papers expose has further showed how Politically Exposed Persons in the country have over the years been frittering the nation’s wealth to offshore safe havens to the detriment of the common Nigerians and wants the Federal Government to respond without any further delay in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption stance.
Former Senate President David Mark has been associated with running eight offshore companies registered in British Virgin Island. His former wife is also listed as owning shell accounts. Senator Mark (Benue South), is the latest Nigerian to be named in the secret assets leak of files belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
The firm, reputed as one of the most secretive companies in the world, helped clients to register offshore entities, some of which are then used to launder money, evade taxes and dodge sanctions.
Senate President Bukola Saraki’s wife, former Delta State Governor James Ibori, Saraki’s brother Laolu, his associate Obi Asika and Olufela Ibidapo have also been named as running shell companies in the tiny islands.
Already the global scandal has claimed Iceland Prime Minister who on Tuesday following pressure from the citizens for keeping a secret account resigned from office. Ukraine’s President is equally under pressure to also quit office among several other reactions.
“We are concerned about the silence of our government to this mind-boggling report. Since governments all over the world including the US, UK and India have started to respond to this monumental fraud, it would not be out of place to ask President Buhari to order the EFCC to investigate Nigerians whose names have featured in the Panama Paper Leak.” Rev. Ugolor said.
“It is expected that such an investigation would reveal the true identity of all those involved and how much they stashed in Panama. Such monies are direly needed to finance development now that the country’s economy is in shambles,” Ugolor asserted.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) report indicate that about 140 politicians and public officials, including 12 current and former world leaders have used more than 214,000 offshore entities to hide the ownership of their assets. Names of some Nigerians already being probed and tried for corruption and who have allegedly used their positions in public office to steal from the common purse have featured in the recent cesspool.
“The Panama revelations have come at a time in Nigeria when very lean financial emoluments accruing from crude oil sales have nearly crippled our economy, subjected the average Nigerian to passing nights at fuel stations, free fall of the Naira against other international currencies and perennial power outages.” the ANEEJ statement stated.
“We call on the Nigerian government to review our anti-money laundering laws according to global best practices, to curtail the ability of Politically Exposed Persons to use their positions to siphon public funds to tax havens. If the government can at least develop and make public its asset recovery blueprint, it would go a long way in sending the right signal to the comity of nations that Nigeria is serious this time around with the fight against corruption”, ANEEJ Executive Director, David Ugolor emphasized.
According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ, the organization which investigated the Panama scandal, 140 politicians and public officials from around the world, current and former world leaders include prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the president of Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia, and more than 214,000 offshore entities appeared in the leak and is connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories. As at yesterday millions of citizens from Iceland poured into the streets to protest their President’s involvement, demanding his resignation from office.
ANEEJ has been in the forefront in the fight to recover the country’s looted assets, and has worked tirelessly with international partners to engender a culture of good governance, poverty alleviation and anti-corruption.
To contribute to the emergence of a just and equitable African society through socio-economic and environmental rights protection, institutional strengthening and people’s empowerment.
Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ)
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