Stakeholders back creation of International Anti-Corruption court

…Say Nigeria loses over $15bn annually to Illicit Financial Fraud

By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

Stakeholders, including the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, have affirmed their support for the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC).

The proposed institution, the stakeholders say, will strengthen the enforcement of criminal laws against corrupt leaders.

They spoke at a one-day hybrid conference on IACC jointly organised by the HEDA Resource Centre in partnership with Integrity Initiative International with the theme: ‘Instituting International Anti-Corruption Court: Issues, Challenges Opportunities for Engagement’

Aside Bawa, other stakeholders include leaders and representatives of the Global Governance Forum (Augusto Lopez-Claros), the United States Embassy, the HEDA Resource Centre (Olanrewaju Suraju) amongst others

In his address, the EFCC boss, who was represented by Chinwe Ndubueze of the Commission’s legal department, said: “Clearly, corruption has become more transnational. Hence, the need for an International Anti-corruption Court to hold perpetrators accountable and spur governments to improve national justice systems,” he stated.

“Although, concerns about the political feasibility and effectiveness of the Court have been raised in several quarters yet we are of the firm belief that an International Anti-corruption Court will work to reduce corruption by nation’s leaders who may be reluctant to permit enforcement of extant criminal legislation against their cronies and themselves.

“We, therefore, believe an international anti-corruption corps will lend benefits to the fight against corruption and financial crimes not only in Nigeria but globally. It promises to be an avenue for nation’s to demonstrate their seriousness in the fight against corruption resulting in curtailing the culture of impunity while providing a platform to enforce anti-corruption laws and punish corrupt leaders.

“As the agency charged with responsibility with enforcing all economic and financial crimes laws in the nation, we endorse the setting of an anti-corruption court. This is premised on the firm belief that such a court will aid in the investigation and prosecution of grand corruption which cut across various jurisdictions, especially in situations where the suspect may have escaped to other climes. It is good to know that there’s no hiding place for those who loot national treasuries because they can be held accountable,” Bawa further stated.

Also speaking, HEDA Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, described corruption as a ‘socio-economic and political bloodsucker’ which he said, has eaten deep into the fabrics of Nigeria and stunted economic growth and development.

He argued that the International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) would fill the crucial enforcement gap in the international framework for combatting grand corruption.

“It would constitute a fair and effective forum for the prosecution and punishment of kleptocrats and their collaborators; deter others tempted to emulate their example; and recover, repatriate, and repurpose ill-gotten gains for the victims of grand corruption.

“Nigeria loses between $15 billion and $18 billion annually to Illicit Financial Fraud, an amount far above what the country needs to address climate change annually.”

Other speakers at the event agreed that the IAAC would increase cooperation against graft among African countries, improve the capacity to trace stolen funds, repatriate and bring to book anyone found guilty, among other benefits.

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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