The President Muhammadu Buhari administration has reached out to the US government to increase its assistance in ensuring that corrupt officials do not get a safe haven abroad for their loot, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said on Monday.
The Vice President, who said this during the visit of a US Congressional Delegation to the Presidential Villa, said both countries were working on a prompt repatriation of the funds.
According to Osinbajo, “We have reached out to the US government with respect to helping with repatriation of proceeds of crime and proceeds of corruption.’’
Osinbajo, who was appreciative of the support given by the US so far said the Buhari administration regarded “corruption is an existential threat’’ that must be dealt with at its root.
“We have worked quite closely with the US government on repatriation of funds. We have seen some results,’’ he said adding that the Federal Government expected more improvement in the process.
He noted that what tended to happen with corrupt public officials was that if they were able to find a safe haven for the proceeds of their criminality they continued with the crime.
Osinbajo stated that there was the general feeling that “if I am able to get the proceeds out of the country I might just get away with it.
“This is one of the reasons we have taken several actions to ensure that we are able to deal with it.
“Because some of the major dislocations in the economy are on account of the problems that we have seen with corruption.’’
He said the Buhari presidency’s strategy which is one of “the most effective ways of fighting corruption is ensuring that these proceeds are unsafe.’’
He added that the strategy was for people to know that they would be found out and would be punished for it “and we would seize whatever profit they had gain.’’
On the return of the Chibok girls, the Vice President said, “it is a front burner issue for us all the time, there is no question of not continuing to negotiate and looking for the girls.’’
He expressed gratitude to God for the hope that the girls are still alive and would be released.
The Vice President noted that “negotiations were continuing and government would keep looking for the opportunity to bring them back.’’
The Vice President thanked the U.S. government for its recent decision to sell Super Tucano aircraft to Nigeria to aid its fight against insurgency in the North-East.
Sen. Christopher Coons, who led the delegation, said the visit was to reaffirm the relationship between Nigeria and the U.S., noting that the U.S. had “an enduring enthusiasm and partnership with Nigeria’’.
Other members of the Congressional delegation include Senators Gary Peters, Jeff Merkley, Michael Bennet, Reps Lisa Blunt Rochester, Terri Sewell, Charlie Dent, Barbara Lee and Frederica Wilson.
The delegation was accompanied by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington.
Also in attendance were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffery Onyeama, Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babgana Monguno, and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.