Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has called on Nigerians to compel the federal government to recover unremitted funds from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) rather than resort to foreign loans.
Reports had it that the senate on Tuesday approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for a $5.5 billion loan partly to finance 2017 budget and partly to finance local debts.
With over $21.7 billion and N376 billion said to have been withheld by NNPC since the return of democracy in 1999, Falana said Nigeria would have no need for foreign loans if it can to embark on the immediate recovery and repatriation of the funds.
He was speaking on Wednesday in Lagos at a national seminar on Promoting Transparency and Accountability in the Recovery of Stolen Asset in Nigeria: Agenda for Reform organized by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in collaboration with the Ford Foundation.
“The federal government has to re-focus its recovery of stolen assets by vigorously pursuing recovery of assets from multinational corporations and not just the countries that illegally keeping the looted wealth of the country,” he said.
“The recovery of our looted wealth should also be extended to the few Nigerians who have been indicted in the Panama and Paradise papers. The EFCC and the Federal Inland Revenue Service should recover appropriate taxes from the offshore companies set up by such individuals.”
He asked Buhari to comply with the order of the federal high court which has directed the federal government to account for the loot recovered since 1999.
ON REPATRIATION OF LOOT
“It is undoubtedly clear that the governments of western countries and the United Arab Emirates are not going to co-operate with Nigeria in the repatriation of the nation’s looted unless the Federal government is prepared to adopt appropriate diplomatic and legal measures. In addition, the labour unions and other civil society organizations in the affected countries have to be mobilized to mount pressure on their governments to return our looted wealth.
“Upon the inauguration of the Mohammadu Buhari administration, the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, and Switzerland assured the federal government that stolen funds and assets stolen from Nigeria would be repatriated. Not only have these countries refused to cooperate with Nigeria they have also frustrated the efforts of the federal government to recover and repatriate such tainted funds and assets.
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