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How Nigeria Lost $157.5bn to Illicit Financial Flows-Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that the country has lost an estimated $157.5 billion to illicit financial flows in nine years – between 2003 and 2012.

The President revealed this on Wednesday while quoting from the 2014 Global Financial Integrity Report in his address to the High-Level National Side-Event organised by the African Union Development Agency and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in New York, United States at the 74th United Nations General Assembly.

Buhari who spoke on the theme, “Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows and Strengthen Good Practices on Assets Recovery and Return to Foster Sustainable Development, ” noted that such massive loss of assets, resulted in dearth of resources to fund public services or to alleviate poverty in the country.

According to him, “This is why, as Africans, we have no choice but to break the back of corruption.”

Acknowledging lack of sufficient capital and corruption as impediments to socio-economic development of the continent, the President emphatically restated his administration’s anti-corruption campaign:

“That is why our government has made it a war we intend to win.  We will give all it takes to ensure there is no hiding place for purveyors of corrupt practices who are truly enemies of the people.”

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Stressing the need to strengthen good practices on asset recovery and return, President Buhari said, “In the last five years, our government has made significant progress to curb corruption,” adding: “We have recovered millions of dollars stolen from our country.”

He noted, however, that “there are still a lot of other funds that are stuck in foreign bank accounts due to international laws, different jurisdictions and justice systems that make it difficult for repatriation.”

Describing Illicit Financial Flows as “illegal movement of funds from one country to another,” President Buhari lamented that, “These flows deplete Africa’s internally generated revenues, foreign exchange earnings, reduce tax revenues, drain natural resources, facilitate corruption and stunt private sector development.” 

Citing tax avoidance as another form of illicit financial flow, he quoted the Tax Justice Network and the International Monetary Fund to have estimated over US$200 billion per year as “being lost by developing countries when multinational enterprises do not pay taxes in the countries where they made the profit.”

“This amount is significantly higher than the annual development aid received by these countries which are estimated to be about US$143 billion,” he added.

He commended the organisers of the meeting designed to finding pragmatic ways to promote international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on asset recovery and return, as an arm of sustainable development policies in Africa. 

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President Buhari also lauded their “shared commitment to root out corruption from our continent.” 

The Nigerian leader said, “I am motivated by the belief that, if we join hands, we can bequeath to our children an Africa that is not defined by corruption.”

Emphasizing the imperative of international cooperation towards stemming the incidence of illegal financial flows, President Buhari said, “Any lasting solution to the above challenges will require international cooperation and coordination,” of African countries and their international counterparts.  

“This is one reason why the Nigerian Government supports this initiative of AUDA/NEPAD and remains committed until we ensure that there are no safe-havens for stolen assets from Africa,” he declared.

“I have high expectations for this meeting.  At the end of the deliberations, I expect other African leaders, to see the pragmatic ideas on how to strengthen our anti-corruption institutions to reduce or effectively eliminate Illicit Financial Flows, ” President Buhari said.

“We need ideas on how to return the stolen assets to their countries of origin.  We also need strategies on how to plug the loopholes that enable companies to avoid paying commensurate taxes in their countries of operations.  You should deliberate on practical ideas to enhance global acceptable assets tracing and freezing, and boost the recovery governance framework.”

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The meeting was also attended by the Presidents of Zambia and Ethiopia. 

CRIME

4, 770 Terrorists, Families surrender to Nigerian Troops, 11 arrested – DHQ

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By Gom Mirian, Abuja 

The Defence Headquarters said a total of 4, 770 Boko-Haram terrorists and members of their families have so far surrendered to troops in the North-east.

The Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Bernard Onyeuko, disclosed this while giving an update on the military operations across the country on Thursday in Abuja.

 

Gen. Onyeuko, said the terrorists who surrendered to its own troops at various locations in the theatre between June 1 to June 15, comprised of 864 adult males, 1,415 women and 2,490 children.

He said the troops of Operation ‘Hadin Kai’ had sustained aggressive posture with vigour in the North-east, which had yielded significant results in the last two weeks.

He added that the series of land and air operations conducted in different locations across the North-east theatre had reduced the operational capabilities of the insurgents with 11 of their fighters being neutralised while 11 were arrested alongside their informants and logistics suppliers.

According to Onyeuko, items recovered from the terrorists include: two AK47 rifles, three bicycles, two locally made guns, 90 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, one golf 2 car and fourteen (14) rustled cattle. 

“The troops carried out several operational activities in Buduwa, Bama-Pulka road, Tuwe Village, Konduga-Kawuri road, Brema in Damboa Motor Park, Tashangoto, Benishek and Kukaneta all in Borno State. 

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“These operations led to the rescue of abducted persons, neutralization of terrorists, arrest of terrorists members, recovery of arms and ammunition and other security related items.

“On 17 and 18 June 2022 troops of 152 Battalion at Buduwa in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State encountered fleeing Boko Haram Terrorist/Islamic State West Africa Province fighters and engaged the terrorists and in the encounter 7 of the terrorists were neutralized and 14 rustled cattle and 3 bicycles were recovered.

“On 21 June 2022 troops arrested some terrorist collaborators and logistics suppliers. Mallam Abacha Usman was arrested at Benshek, Mallam Ibrahim Gira along Damboa – Biu Road and Mallam Ibrahim Gira a notorious terrorist petroleum supplier.

” All surrendered Boko Haram Terrorist/Islamic State West Africa Province members and families were profiled and documented while all arrested and recovered items were handed over to the appropriate authority for further actions”, he disclosed. 

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CRIME

Troops arrest 10 Robbers, rescue 3 Victims in Kaduna 

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By Gom Mirian, Abuja 

The military high command, yesterday said its troops deployed on internal operations in Kaduna state has arrested ten armed robbery suspects at Kafanchan town in Jema’a local government area of the state. 

A statement issued by the Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Bernard Onyeuko stated the names of the arrested suspects as: Messrs Manga Ismail, a 22 – year-old, Idris Haruna (Ban Sambo), 20- year-old, Sani Bali, 19- year-old.

 

Others are Shamsudeen Ladan, 25 – year-old, Abdulmajid Yau (Sele), 22 – year – old , Abubakar Hassan, 23 – year-old, Abbas Aliyu, 15 – year-old, Mohammed Umar (Jazuli), 17 – year – old, Jonathan Vincent (Bamai), 19 – year-old and Stephen Joseph, 25 – year-old.

According to him, items recovered from the criminals include: TV, DVD, gas cookers, Mattresses, woofer, phones, scissors, among others.

 

Gen. Onyeuko also said on the same day, troops acting on intelligence reports, conducted a cordon search operation at Fanock Village, Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State and found a Toyota Corolla car with registration number ABUJA KUJ 452 AZ with no occupant. 

Onyeuko explained that Troops conducted search operations in the surrounding bush and rescued 3 kidnaped civilians comprising two females and a male. 

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Speaking further, he said :”Troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN in a sustained effort to eliminate criminals elements in their Area of operation on 28 June 2022 based credible intelligence conducted clearance operation in conjunction with vigilantes at Kan Duniya Village, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Plateau State, neutralized notorious bandit and kidnapper.

“Similarly, on the same day, troops on fighting patrol sighted 2 x suspected kidnappers around Sara High Ground Mangu Local Government Area Plateau State on a motor cycle, suspects abandoned their motor cycle on sighting troops and fled.

” Troop exploited area and recovered 2 AK47 rifles, 101 rounds of 7.62mm special, 5 magazines, 1 motor cycle, 1 iron digger and 2 black jackets amongst others”, he said. 

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CRIME

Court Jails Fraudster 235 Years  for N525m Fraud

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By Gom Mirian, Abuja

Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court, Uyo has convicted and sentenced a notorious international fraudster, Scales Olatunji, to 235years imprisonment for internet fraud and money laundering.


Olatunji was arraigned on July 2, 2019 on 45-count charges bordering on identity theft, money laundering and conspiracy.


He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, thus setting the stage for his trial.  
One of the counts reads: “That you, Scales Olatunji Ishola “M”, Meraiyebu Charles “M”(at large), Gabriel Adeyemi Olugbenga “M”(at large), Ojomo Oluwatobi Ayodele “M”(at large) and Adekola Oluwatoyin “M”(at large), between January 2017 to October 2018, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court conspired among yourselves to convert the total sum of N525,172,580.
00  (Five Hundred and Twenty Five Million, One Hundred and Seventy-two Thousand, Five Hundred and Eighty Naira) only, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of  unlawful activities to wit: fraud (Business E-mail Compromise and Identity Theft), and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act”


Another count reads: “That you, Scales Olatunji Ishola “M” on or about the 15th day of May 2018, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud did send electronic messages (email) using emailoffice01@aol.com to one Monica Goulmoen of the Charity Association for providing girls and boys in Kobane with a football pitch, while impersonating a certain Per Ravn Omdal, a former Norwegian Football Association President, demanding the sum of €64,000.00 (Sixty-Four Thousand Euros) to be transferred to you via IBAN GB74HBUK40062132722119 which was paid and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (3)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 22 (4) of the same Act”.
 EFCC counsel,  Nwandu  Ukoha opened the  case on November 7, 2019 and subsequently tendered 35 exhibits through four prosecution witnesses,   which were all admitted in evidence against the defendant.  

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Delivering judgment on Monday, June 27, 2022, Justice Okeke convicted  Olatunji on all the 45- counts preferred against him by the EFCC. He sentenced Olatunji to seven years imprisonment on counts one to five,   and five  years imprisonment on counts six to 45. The sentence, shall, however, run concurrently with effect from the date of arrest. 
 The court also ordered that the money in the convict’s account be forfeited to Norwegian citizens through the EFCC. Also, his properties: House No. 6, located on Road 2 West-end Estate, Ikota,  Lekki, Lagos State and  House No. 10, Donatus Odum Street, Ikate, Lagos State are to be sold by the EFCC and the proceeds restituted to the Norwegian victims.


The convict’s journey to the Correctional Centre started when operatives of the EFCC arrested him on March 20, 2019at his Ikota ,  Lekki’s residence based on a petition from the Oslo Police District in Norway, requesting  the assistance of the EFCC in investigating a network of Nigerians that had defrauded Norwegian citizens for years.
Investigations revealed that the convict belonged to a syndicate of internet fraudsters who specialized in Business Email Compromise-BEC.

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