CORRUPTION is a hydra-headed
monster and a cankerworm that
undermines the fabric of all societies. It
does not differentiate between developed
and developing countries. It constitutes
a serious threat to good governance, rule
of law, peace and security, as well as
development programmes aimed at tackling
poverty and economic backwardness.
These considerations informed my decision
to attend this event as well as the Anti-
Corruption Summit organized by Prime
Minister Rt. Hon. David Cameron that will
be held tomorrow. I expect that today’s
event would feed into the discussions that
will be held tomorrow at Lancaster House.
In 2003, when the world came together to
sign the United Nations Convention Against
Corruption (UNCAC) that entered into force
in 2005, it was with a view to tackling the
growing threat that corruption had become
to many nations. Little did we know that
eleven years since then, the problem would
still continue unabated, but even become
more intractable and cancerous.
Permit me to share with you our national
experience in combating corruption. I
intend to do this by placing the fight against
corruption in Nigeria within the context
of the three priority programmes of our
Administration. On assumption of office
on 29th May 2015, we identified as our
main focus three key priority programmes.
They are, combating insecurity, tackling
corruption and job creation through restructuring
the declining national economy.
Our starting point as an Administration
was to amply demonstrate zero tolerance
for corrupt practices as this vice is largely
responsible for the social and economic
problems our country faces today. The
endemic and systemic nature of corruption
in our country demanded our strong
resolve to fight it. We are demonstrating
our commitment to this effort by bringing
integrity to governance and showing
leadership by example.
Tackling the menace of corruption is
not an easy task, but it is possible even
if many feathers have to be ruffled. Our
Government’s dogged commitment to
tackling corruption is also evident in the
freedom and support granted to national
anti-corruption agencies to enable them to
carry out their respective mandates without
interference or hindrance from any quarter
including the government.
Today, our frontline anti-corruption
agencies, namely, the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the
Independent Corrupt Practices and other
related Offences Commission (ICPC), the
Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the
Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), have
become revitalised and more proactive
in the pursuit of perpetrators of corrupt
practices, irrespective of their social status
and political persuasion. This is a radical
departure from the past.
We have implemented the Treasury
Single Account (TSA) whereby all Federal
government revenue goes into one account.
This measure would make it impossible
for public officers to divert public funds to
private accounts as was the practice before.
Through the effective application of TSA
and the Bank Verification Number (BVN),
we have been able to remove 23,000 ghost
workers from our pay roll, thereby saving
billions that would have been stolen. We
are also reviewing our anti-corruption
laws and have developed a national anticorruption
strategy document that will
guide our policies in the next three years,
and possibly beyond.
I am not unaware of the challenges of
fighting corruption in a manner consistent
with respect for human rights and the
rule of law. As a country that came out of
prolonged military rule only sixteen years
ago, it will clearly take time to change
the mentality and psychology of law
enforcement officers. I am committed to
applying the rule of law and to respecting
human rights. I also require our security
agencies to do the same.
I admit that there are a few cases where
apparently stringent rules have been applied
as a result of threats to national security and
the likelihood that certain persons may escape
from the country or seek to undermine the
stability of Nigeria. It is for this reason that
we are seeking the support of many countries
for the prosecution of certain individuals
residing in their jurisdictions. Of course we
will provide the necessary legal documents
and whatever mutual assistance is required
to secure conviction of such individuals, as
well as facilitate the repatriation of our stolen
Unfortunately, our experience has been
that repatriation of corrupt proceeds is very
tedious, time consuming, costly and entails
more than just the signing of bilateral or
multilateral agreements. This should not
be the case as there are provisions in the
appropriate United Nations Convention
that require countries to return assets to
countries from where it is proven that they
were illegitimately acquired.
Further, we are favourably disposed
to forging strategic partnerships with
governments, civil society organizations,
organized private sector and international
organizations to combat corruption.
Our sad national experience had been
that domestic perpetrators of corrupt
practices do often work hand-in-hand with
international criminal cartels.
This evil practice is manifested in the
plundering and stealing of public funds,
which are then transferred abroad into
secret accounts. I therefore, call for the
establishment of an international anticorruption
infrastructure that will monitor,
trace and facilitate the return of such assets
to their countries of origin. It is important
to stress that the repatriation of identified
stolen funds should be done without delay
or preconditions.
In addition to the looting of public funds,
Nigeria is also confronted with illegal
activities in the oil sector, the mainstay of
our export economy. That this industry
has been enmeshed in corruption with the
participation of the staff of some of the
oil companies is well established. Their
participation enabled oil theft to take place
on a massive scale.
Some of us in this hall may be familiar with
the Report released by Chatham House,
here in London, in 2013, titled “Nigeria’s
Criminal Crude: International Options
to Combat the Export of Stolen Oil.” The
important findings of the Chatham House
document are illuminating and troubling.
Part of the Report concluded that:a)Nigerian
crude oil is being stolen on an industrial
scale and exported, with the proceeds
laundered through world financial centres
by transnational organized criminals. b)
Oil theft is a species of organized crime
that is almost totally off the international
community’s radar, as Nigeria’s trade and
diplomatic partners have taken no real
action. c) Nigeria could not stop the trade
single-handedly, and there is limited value
in countries going it alone.
It is clear therefore, that the menace of
oil theft, put at over 150,000 barrels per
day, is a criminal enterprise involving
internal and external perpetrators. Illicit
oil cargoes and their proceeds move across
international borders. Opaque and murky
as these illegal transactions may be, they are
certainly traceable and can be acted upon, if
all governments show the required political
will. This will has been the missing link
in the international efforts hitherto. Now
in London, we can turn a new page by
creating a multi-state and multi-stakeholder
partnership to address this menace.
We, therefore, call on the international
community to designate oil theft as an
international crime similar to the trade
in “blood diamonds”, as it constitutes an
imminent and credible threat to the economy
and stability of oil-producing countries
like Nigeria. The critical stakeholders here
present can lead the charge in this regard.
By the end of our summit tomorrow,
we should be able to agree on a rulesbased
architecture to combat corruption
in all its forms and manifestations. I agree
fully with the Commonwealth Secretary-
General that anti-corruption is a shared
agenda for civil society, business and
government, requiring commitment from
companies, creating a space for civil society
and governments providing support for
A main component of this anti-corruption
partnership is that governments must
demonstrate unquestionable political will
and commitment to the fight. The private
sector must come clean and be transparent,
and civil society, while keeping a watch on
all stakeholders, must act and report with a
sense of responsibility and objectivity.
For our part, Nigeria is committed to
signing the Open Government Partnership
initiatives alongside Prime Minister
Cameron during the Summit tomorrow.
Being a keynote address by President
Muhammadu Buhari at The Commonwealth
Event “Tackling Corruption Together

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