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Buhari blames poverty in Nigeria for loss of $158bn to illicit financial flows

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President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed poverty situation in Nigeria for the loss of an estimated US$157.5 billion to illicit financial flows between 2003 and 2012.

He explained that the massive loss of assets resulted in the dearth of resources “to fund public services, or to alleviate poverty,” in the country.

Buhari, quoting the 2014 Global Financial Integrity Report to back his claim, said “This is why, as Africans, we have no choice but to break the back of corruption.”

He stated this when he addressed a 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) on Wednesday in New York, on the margins of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, under the theme, “Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on assets recovery and return to foster sustainable development.”

Acknowledging a lack of sufficient capital and corruption as impediments to the 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.”

Stressing the need to strengthen good practices on asset recovery and return, President Buhari said that “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.”

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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.”

Nigeria has been rated as the world capital for people living in extreme poverty.

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