The United States Government has expressed confidence and satisfaction at the level of assistance and cooperation it received from the Nigerian Government for the training of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency officers.
The training, which was coordinated, by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is believed, will help reduce all forms of transnational crimes and trafficking.
Mr Robert Leventhal, the Deputy Director, in the Office of Anti-Crime Programs in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the Department of State, intimated journalists from across Africa during a Telephonic press briefing on the sidelines of the December 4-6 Global Forum on Asset Recovery which took place in Washington D.C, that “the Joint Border Task Force, or JBTF at the international airport in Lagos, is composed of Nigerian law enforcement officers, including the NDLEA.
“The program trained officers to intercept and investigate multiple transnational crimes that can be facilitated by vulnerabilities and individuals at airports. That may include drug trafficking, human trafficking, wildlife trafficking and other financial and transnational crimes”, he stated.
Mr. Leventhal believes that such partnership will help combat and reduce all forms of trafficking.
“This kind of capacity at airports, at other points of entry, we found both in the United States and in our partnerships around the world, is a key measure to combatting all kinds of illicit trafficking. So we’re pleased to be engaged in that effort in Nigeria as well as other places around the world”.
On the part of assets recovery, he affirmed the commitments of the United States to help countries like Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine, help recover assets abroad.
“The U.S. continues to support global anti-corruption efforts. We strive to be a leader in the fight against that both at home in the U.S. and abroad. We strongly support the UN Convention Against Corruption and other similar treaties. Our Department of Justice, which is our national prosecutorial body, has repatriated or is repatriating over $150 million in proceeds of corruption to requesting countries. And has frozen $3.5 billion in assets linked to foreign corruption”.
“And since fiscal year 2016, the State Department and our U.S. Agency for International Development have dedicated more than $115 million each year to a wide range of foreign assistance efforts to build other countries’ capacity to counter corruption”, he added.
“Asset recovery is a priority for the United States. We actually have a dedicated team; it’s called the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. They cooperate with other countries internationally to try to help them to train to seize, to confiscate and to return assets. Those prosecutors and investigators who work with them will go to a requesting country; they will meet face-to-face with the officials there. They will assist in investigations”.
On the issue of the signed MoU between Nigeria and Switzerland, Kellen McClure, the Anti-Corruption Advisor on the Office of Anti-Crime Programs revealed that there are lessons to be learnt from the agreement, which is, the fact that such repatriation of assets take time, if trust and time is not taken into cognizance.
“The Swiss and Nigeria government had the opportunity to sign this Memorandum of Understanding on the return of this money at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery. But one of the things that were abundantly clear through the conversations with our Nigerian colleagues and our Swiss colleagues and our World Bank colleagues is, this does take time but there are certain lessons learned over this process. And some of these lessons learned are, these discussions need to start as early as possible. It’s really incumbent upon the countries to build trust in this partnership between them so that this dialogue can take place”, the official noted.
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