By Emmanuella Anokam
The Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) says it is focusing on the implementation of its National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-2021 for a sustainable approach to combat corruption in the country.
Ms Lilian Ekeanyanwu, Head, Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-corruption Reforms (TUGAR), said this on Thursday in Abuja at the commemoration of International Anti-corruption Day 2021, tagged, ” Your Right, Your Role: Say No to Corruption.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the IATT is the coordinating forum of agencies with Anti-corruption and accountability mandates, with its secretariat at the TUGAR.
The IATT comprises of 22 agencies, including, Nigeria Extractive Industries, Transparency Initiative, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, Code of Conduct Bureau, Fiscal Responsibility Commission, among others.
Ekeanyanwu noted that the first circle of the strategy, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) ended in July 2021 and would be presented to FEC for extension, based on consensus and recommendations by stakeholders.
She disclosed that a new action plan would be developed to guide the implementation of the strategy, adding that it was expected to be all inclusive with sector specific strategies for necessary buy-in.
Ekeanyanwu recalled that the IATT at an Inter-Agency retreat in May 2009 adopted a statement of commitment to jointly address pressing issues within the national Anti-corruption agenda and commemorate international Anti-corruption day to combat corruption.
She noted that in order to build on the synergy, the IATT organised a high level seminar to mark the international Anti-corruption Day 2021, which had as a key component, a panel for discussion by the heads of Anti-corruption agencies.
The IATT boss urged Nigerians to take the responsibility and play their respective roles in combating corruption in different sectors of the economy.
Nigeria joined other countries to endorse the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2005, where countries adopted the decision to designate Dec. 9, as Anti-corruption Day.
Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, Executive Secretary, NEITI, in a presentation noted that it was discovered early that secret ownership of companies was responsible for major problems that Nigeria and other developing countries faced today.
Orji noted that NEITI’s first audit report, before the rest of the world adopted UNCAC in 2005, identified Beneficial Ownership Disclosure as a measure to prevent corruption and illicit financial flows in extractive industry.
Orji was speaking on “Beneficial Ownership Disclosure: A Tool for Fighting Corruption, Recovery of Assets, Preventing Illicit Financial Flows and Terrorism Financing”.
He said that secret ownership could fuel corruption, facilitate illicit financial flows and generally undermine the capacity of government to function effectively.
He said that some reports estimated that Africa and other developing countries lost about one trillion dollars every year due to corruption, illicit financial flows and related illegal activities.
“Similarly, we are all aware of the recent report by the African Union Panel led by Thabo Mbeki, that Africa loses more than 50 billion dollars every year due to illicit financial flows and that Nigeria alone accounts for about one-third of this amount.
“This report also shows that more than 90 per cent of illicit financial flows in Nigeria occurs in the extractive industry.
‘’Recently, a special report by NEITI found that about $4.2 billion worth of crude oil is either lost or stolen every year.
“Taken together, these losses pose serious challenges to government’s ability to deliver public goods and services to citizens.
“Particularly, secret ownership or exploitation of mineral resources undermines national security and poses an existential threat to the country,” he said.
He stressed that Nigeria, through NEITI, recognised the damage done to the economy by these practices.
He said in Dec. 2019, Nigeria became the first African country to establish a publicly accessible register of beneficial owners, and the first globally to establish a register in extractive sector.
“Within the past year also, we have entered into strategic partnerships with anticorruption agencies to enhance corruption detection, asset recovery and combating illicit financial flows in the extractive industry.
“Specifically, our Memmorandum of Understanding with the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) will add great value towards achieving the primary objectives of beneficial ownership disclosure.
“Our 2019 as well as ongoing 2020 audit of the extractive sector will continue to uphold global reporting standards which are designed to provide data to aid detection and measurement of illicit financial flows in the extractive industry.
“Within the past year, we have made significant contribution, in terms of providing data and analysis, to support government’s Interagency Committee and the ICPC programme to curb illicit financial flows in the extractive industry,” he added.
Also speaking, Ghada Waly, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), stated that corruption undermined rights to justice and opportunity to public services and sustainable future.
He noted that global youths had the perspective and conviction to find solution to corruption and hold leaders accountable, adding that the UNODC was committed to supporting countries to take action through UN convention against corruption. (NAN)