Africa is currently losing about 80 billion dollars annually through Illegal Financial Flows (IFFs), with Nigeria accounting for 17 billion dollars or 21 per cent of the figure, a UN conference heard on Friday in New York.
Illicit financial flows are illegal movements of money or capital from one country to another through tax evasion, money laundering and smuggling, among other avenues.
The development, announced at an international conference hosted by the UN has prompted Nigeria to push for the international community to simplify the process of tracing, recovering and repatriating IFFs to their countries of origin.
Nigeria’s position was canvassed at a high-level meeting on “International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows and Strengthen Good Practices on Assets Return” , held at the UN headquarters.
The country’s position was presented by Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, the leader of Nigeria’s delegation and Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) at the meeting, facilitated by the UN General Assembly.
Owasanoye said that Nigeria was “particularly concerned about the challenges posed by the increasing scope and complexity of IFFs and the slow pace of the process of recovery and return of assets of illicit origin”.
According to him, IFFs are a shared concern that require global solution as institutional reforms at the domestic level alone cannot effectively solve the problem.
The ICPC boss said: “the success of Nigeria’s efforts at combating illicit financial flows has been rightly acknowledged by the international community.
“Our experience shows that IFF is a shared concern that requires global solution, strong political will and support by governments of destination countries to combat.”
He said the international community should demand political commitment at the highest levels of government.
“Global standards should include mandatory national inter-agency cooperation and information sharing by law enforcement agencies and tax authorities to combat IFFs and corruption.
“The effectiveness of such inter-agency cooperation should be amenable to assessment and evaluation of designated global monitoring agencies.”
Owasanoye expressed Nigeria’s support for the establishment of implementable international norms and rules to comprehensively address all aspects of IFFs.
Earlier in her remarks, the President of the UN General Assembly, Ms María Espinosa, said that illicit financial flows were negatively impacting the lives of millions of people around the world.
According to Espinosa, financial resources are taken from investments in health, education, housing, infrastructure meant for the well-being of people, leading to inequality and poverty.
She noted that illicit and illegal activities such as tax evasion, corruption and other crimes often affected economic stability.
The UNGA president also called for the political will to tackle corruption in all ramifications, adding that more must be done to fight illicit financial flows to recover assets and to pay them back to where they belonged.
Fowler highlighted several initiatives by the Federal Government through the FIRS and other agencies, to combat the menace.
Other members of the Nigerian delegation are the Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, and the Director-General of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Mr Modibbo Hamman-Tukur.
The meeting was part of the “Prosperity Week”, a series of events organised by the UN General Assembly on inclusive development and socio-economic inequality.
Several UN agencies and specialists from civil society participated in the interactive sessions of the meeting.
Lightning kills shepherd, 19 buffaloes in Indonesia
Police said Sinto Habeyan, 23, was lighting a bonfire in a cattle barn in the Central Tapanuli district late Monday when lightning struck amid heavy rain, the Kompas daily reported.
Habeyan and the 19 buffaloes died immediately, district police chief Sukamat said.
Edited by Emmanuel Yashim
Sudan forms sovereign council to lead country to civilian rule
The members of the Sovereign Council, made up of six civilians and five Transitional Military Council (TMC) officers will be sworn in Wednesday morning, SUNA said.
A prime minister is expected to be sworn in later in the day.
A spokesman for the TMC announced the names of the members of the council in a televised address late Tuesday.
For the initial 21 months the body will be led by TMC head Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, who took over as Sudanese leader following the overthrow of long-time president Omar al-Bashir in April.
A civilian will take over for the remaining 18 months until 2022, when democratic elections are due.
The council was formed after a power-sharing deal was signed between the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and the military on August 17, regulating how power is divided.
The deal gives the pro-democracy movement two-thirds of the seats in Sudan’s Legislative Council and the power to select the prime minister.
The military council will have the power to choose the interior and defence ministers.
For months, there have been massive demonstrations in Sudan.
The protests initially led to the ousting of al-Bashir, who had ruled the country in north-eastern Africa for three decades with an iron fist.
Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)
Victim of Pell assault ‘relieved’ at court’s decision to quash appeal
The judges at the Court of Appeal rejected Pell’s appeal in a majority two-to-one decision and upheld his conviction for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in the mid-1990s.
“It is four years since I reported to the police. The criminal process has been stressful,” the victim said through his lawyer, Vivian Waller, after the court decision on Wednesday.
“The journey has taken me to places that, in my darkest moments, I feared I could not return from. The justice machine rolls on with all of its processes and punditry, almost forgetting about the people at the heart of the matter.”
In the state of Victoria, where the trial took place, publishing anything that may tend to identify the victims of sexual abuse is prohibited under law.
Pell’s victim was identified as JJ by the sentencing judge. The other victim died in 2014.
JJ said he “felt a responsibility to come forward” after attending the funeral of his childhood friend, the other choirboy, who died of an accidental drug overdose – which has been blamed on the abuse.
“I knew he had been in a dark place. I was in a dark place. I gave a statement to the police because I was thinking of him and his family. I felt I should say what I saw and what happened to me.”
JJ said he did not report to the police for his personal gain.
“I have risked my privacy, my health, my well-being, my family… This is not about money and never has been,” he said, adding he is “not on a mission to do anybody any harm.”
“My journey has not been an easy one. It has been all the more stressful because the case involved a high-profile figure,” said JJ, who recently became a father.
“I am grateful for a legal system that everyone can believe in, where everybody is equal before the law and no one is above the law.”
“I just hope that it is all over now.”
Meanwhile, the father of the late victim said he shed “tears of relief in the courtroom when the judgement was handed down this morning.”
“It’s been an extremely tough wait for our client who has had to deal with the awful thought that maybe the man who destroyed his son’s life could have his conviction overturned,” said Lisa Flynn, the lawyer for the father.
(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)
3 children of German Islamic State fighters arrive in Frankfurt
It is the first time the German government has brought the children of Islamic State militants home amid a fierce debate about how to handle repatriation of jihadists and their children in the wake of the militant group’s collapse.
The police spokesman said the children’s transport has been overseen by social workers and child protective services, but declined to give further details citing privacy regulations.
Sources told dpa the children included two sisters ages 2 and 4 who had been accompanied to the airport in Erbil by their grandmother, and a boy aged 7 who was also brought to the airport by his grandmother.
According to the German Foreign Ministry, four children including a sick baby were handed over to employees of the German Consulate in Erbil on Monday.
The children had been living in the Kurdish-controlled al-Hol refugee camp near the border with Iraq since the collapse of the Islamic State group.
The police spokesman did not comment on the whereabouts of the baby.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday that the government is working under difficult circumstances to bring more children of Islamic State fighters back to Germany.
Edited by Emmanuel Yashim
Brazil bars Maduro’s officials entry, alleging rights abuses
The prohibition concerns officials whose acts have violated principles contained in the Brazilian constitution: democracy, human dignity and human rights, according to the announcement.
The government will prepare a list of the names of the officials in question.
It was not known if the list would be made public.
It was the first time that Brazil adopted unilateral sanctions against another country, according to daily O Globo. Colombia, Argentina, and Peru have adopted similar measures against Maduro, who is facing a campaign by the U.S.-backed opposition to oust him from power.
The president won a second term in an election boycotted by most of the opposition last year, and has presided over an economic meltdown.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president in January and won the support of dozens of countries.
U.S. President Donald Trump meanwhile said his administration was maintaining contacts with the Maduro regime on several levels, including a very high level.
Edited by Emmanuel Yashim