The United Kingdom says it is working with Nigeria to fight corruption through the provision of technical assistance and equipment to key agencies fighting financial and economic crimes.
UK Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Karen Pierce, said at the Security Council briefing on ‘Corruption and Conflict’ that the two countries were also working to provide public awareness on corruption.
She said UK is a very strong supporter of the UN Convention against Corruption, adding that it had hosted an anti-corruption summit in London with the hope of stepping up global action. Pierce said: “Asset recovery is a crucial part of efforts to tackle corruption and it’s a fundamental principle of the Convention. “In 2017, we co-hosted the first Global Forum on Asset Recovery with the USA, the World Bank and UNODC (UN Office on Drugs and Crime). “This forum helped progress arrangements for returning stolen assets of over $300 million to Nigeria.
“Chapter VI of the Convention highlights the importance of technical assistance and information exchange. “The UK is proud to be working in partnership with several countries to share best practice and develop capacity. “In Nigeria, we provide technical assistance and equipment to key agencies fighting international and domestic financial and economic crime, and we work to raise public awareness of corruption.’’
The UK envoy regretted that no country was immune from corruption, pointing out that losses from corruption totalled trillions of dollars yearly. Pierce said corruption held back economic development, undermined the provision of public services and stoked grievances and ultimately, conflict, adding that Kofi Annan in 2003 calling corruption “an insidious plague.’’
She pointed out that the links between corruption and conflict were well established, saying a corrupt government could generate grievances that lead to discontent and then to violence and conflict. “UNODC studies in Iraq, Nigeria and Afghanistan show how once conflict begins, it creates even more opportunities for bribery and other corrupt practices. “In turn, this undermines the rule of law and that fuels further conflict. Terrorist groups such as ISIS or al-Qaeda take advantage of corruption both to fund their operations but also to attract recruits and fund their ideology,” she said.
To stem the ugly tide, Pierce said the UK in 2017 passed the Criminal Finances Act which established new anti-corruption tools such as unexplained wealth orders. She also said the UK In 2018 announced that it would establish a public register listing the beneficial ownership of overseas companies, including in its overseas territories. According to her, this will help ensure that the UK is not used as a refuge by corrupt leaders, businessmen and officials.