The need for the recovery and repatriation of Africa’s stolen assets became the main focus of discussion as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), commemorated the 2019 African Union (AU) Anti-Corruption Day in 15 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, recently.
The event which was organized in collaboration with the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC); Centre for Democracy and Development and Pan African Strategic and Policy Research Group (PANAFSTRAG) had the theme, “Towards a Common African Position on Asset Recovery.”
Delivering a welcome remark during an event marking the day in Abuja, the ICPC Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, who was represented by a board member of the Commission, Mr. Obiora Igwedibia, revealed that Africa loses an estimated sum of $90 billion annually through illicit financial outflows.
Professor Owasanoye therefore spoke on the importance of recovering stolen wealth, saying that the weak and the vulnerable were the worst-hit victims of this crime of corruption.
According to him, “The millions of African suffering the denial of basic social services and lack of infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, water and employment would receive succor as stolen assets are recovered.”
The ICPC Chairman further pointed out that the AU Anti-Corruption Day celebration was imperative because of the negative impact of corruption on the continent’s socio-economic and political development.
In his special remarks, PACAC Chairman, Professor Itse Sagay, also underscored the significance of asset recovery to the fight against corruption.
“Assets recovery deprives the looter of the fruits of his criminal endeavour with all the attendant risks. This can result in depression, trauma, exposure, shame, poverty, without anything to show for his efforts,” the PACAC Chairman stressed.
In a keynote address during the event, the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Akpata, who represented the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, lent credence to the fact that corruption mostly affected the down-trodden; the less-privileged and the poor.
The event also featured panel sessions with discussions focusing on “Adopting a Common African Position on Asset Recovery and Asset Return,” and “Sustainable Approaches to the Management of Recovered Assets in Africa.”
In his contribution during the first panel session, Vaclav Prusa of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre and Transparency International (CISLAC/TI) noted that Civil Society Organizations were a valuable partner to broker international cooperation and promote accountable utilization of recovered assets.
The commemoration will snowball into an international conference on “Corruption: Wealth; Power; Religion and Democracy” and a workshop on “Developing a Civil Law Approach to Corruption and Africa Impunity Index.”