Nigeria lost about $18bn annually to tax evasion, money laundering, and other related offences, especially outside the country.
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) made the disclosure on Tuesday while lamenting the rising increase in corruption in the country.
CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa who spoke at a media workshop for investigative journalists on “Effective Reporting of the Asset Recovery and Management System in Nigeria,” in Ikeja G.R.A, Lagos State, South-West Nigeria, said this contributed to the International financial intelligence report that created Nigeria as the worst in illicit financial flows offenders in Africa, in terms of elaborate international fraud schemes.
Musa alleged that ‘reputable’ law firms and other middlemen usually defraud Nigerians of billions of dollars that should have been used to counter abject poverty, insecurity and poor service delivery in the country.
The CISLAC Executive Director advised the Federal Government to resolve this through a legal framework, a central database where citizens can access financial records as well as the involvement of Chief Security Officers, the media, and other critical non-state actors in the recovery, management, and utilisation of the assets.
He called for synergy in the fight for corruption saying domestic recoveries should be transparently managed.
He said: “The Nigerian public needs to be convinced that these recoveries are not just another loot used for political survival and the self-enrichment of those in power. Currently, various institutions like the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Code of Conduct Bureau, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and other agencies recover assets without synergy.
“The non-transparency in respect of recovered assets in Nigeria creates room for re-looting and mismanagement. The much-awaited Proceeds of the Crime management Bill has not yet been signed into law, supposedly because of the power tussle within agencies about economically and politically lucrative mandate to confiscate and manage stolen assets. Lack of transparency in the management of these assets provides ample room for corruption and mismanagement in “re-looting” of the looted assets.”