UK receives 90 billion pound stolen funds yearly from Nigeria, others — Experts

The United Kingdom receives not less than 90 billion pound shady funds from across the world every year, most of them stolen by public officials from Third World countries, including but not limited to Nigeria, foreign experts said in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Monday.
The experts said 87,000 illicit assets in UK are owned by anonymous companies in tax havens, while the values of secretly owned properties in the UK are between 56 billion pound to 100 billion pound. 
Forty per cent of these properties are in the city of London, they affirmed.
The revelation was made by world acclaimed anti-corruption advocates, Christian Erikson and Lionel Faull, in a joint paper, titled: “Obtaining Property Information Overseas,” presented at the ongoing anti-corruption training organized by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (Heda Resource Centre) in collaboration with international groups: The Corner House, Kent Law School, all in the UK, MacArthur Foundation and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.
The programme drew 70 civil society organisations, media, labour and representatives of anti-corruption institutions from across the southern region of Nigeria.
In his remarks, Nick Hildyard, an anti-corruption investigator, said though the UK has one of the most effective anti-corruption laws, but that in reality, the country does not appear to be fully prepared to stall the wave of corruption with her financial institutions providing the logistics for corrupt officials from Nigeria. 
“The UK is a legally corrupt country,” Hildyard said, adding that if Western countries genuinely wish to fight corruption, they should stop the warehouse of stolen funds from Nigeria.
Faull said: “Getting your money back is easier said than done. It takes a long time. If you do not support corruption, there is no need doing banking with Nigeria. The fight against Corruption will not succeed without a very active citizenry. It requires international solidarity, teaming up with civil society in order to work with international organisations and make authorities accountable.”
In his presentation, the HEDA Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, said about 456 top Nigerian public officials holding strategic positions are yet to declared their assets inspite of the regulations put in place by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Speaking at the conference, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, on National Social Investment Programme, Maryam Uwais, said millions of Nigerians have never felt the impact of the government.
Uwais commended the Federal Government’s efforts at fighting poverty by ploughing recovered stolen wealth into meeting the essentials of poor individuals across the 36 states of the Federation.
Uwais said: “We have information about savings among the beneficiary of the N-SIP. 
“We discover that N567 million have been saved by these women.
“Eighteen thousand, two hundred and ten have also taken loans and less than 1000 have defaulted. 
“The beneficiaries are involved in animal husbandry and other businesses. 
“They have become very useful to themselves. 
“What we have done is to insulate the process from the political process.”
Uwais said at the moment, six million Nigerians are on the data base of the NSIP, adding that 167,000 out of the figure are physically challenged people. 
Communication, she said, remains a challenge since many of the beneficiaries live in the rural areas.
She said: “It has been a dilemma for me generally. 
“It’s been a choice that has been hard. 
“We call on journalists to please go out of their duties to help reach out to them.”
Uwais said corruption cannot be eradicated overnight. 
On poverty alleviation, Uwais said: “We need at least 10 years of consistent intervention to be able to make real impact. 
“We have tried to adopt best practices given our own circumstances. 
“The money given to the poor continues to facilitate economic growth. 
“We must all participate in this sustained effort. 
“It is time to turn the tide of the fortunes of our people. 
“Corruption knows no boundary. 
“We need to ensure that utilization of funds is transparent.”
In her presentation, Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa of the University of Lagos said though the Freedom of Information law has opened fresh opportunities for Nigerians to hold their leaders accountable.
Atsenuwa however regretted that the Official Secrets Act, which was introduced by colonial lords about a century ago into the Nigerian legal system remains in force. 
Nigeria, unlike many other countries and jurisdictions, lacks a policy, guidelines or law on public access of court documents.