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Looted funds: legal bottlenecks frustrating recovery ―British High commissioner

Laure-Beaufils

Laure-BeaufilsBritish Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, has said that legal hiccup had all along frustrated recovery of looted funds by corrupt Nigerian leaders in Great Britain.

Speaking with journalists after a courtesy visit to a private radio station, Royal FM in Ilorin Kwara state on Friday, the British envoy, however, said that there was great hope that all the stolen money by Nigerian former leaders would soon be recovered by the federal government.

“There’s more than hope. It will happen. The question is that its a question of time. The reason for that is because there are complicated legal processes. And what had to happen before the money is returned is that all the legal documents had to be gathered and put in place and we have to be sure that the money goes back and goes back to the right place. You expect the legal processes to be quite timely and sometimes there are hiccups on the way.

“My message to you is that we are committed to returning the money and there’s no desire to keep that money we can’t access it even if we want to. And I expect that we’ll see that it goes back in the next couple of years”, she said.

The British envoy also said that it’s actually a responsibility of Nigerian government and its people to sustain provision of necessary support and institutional backup to fight corruption, adding that a lot had been done in that regard by the government.

“And sometimes we should decide how to tell that story a little bit better now. The treasury single account has done a lot. The EFCC is taking time to get all the pieces of evidence to bring people to account very quickly. But there are already initiatives by the finance minister like the hotline that allow people to call in when they have evidence of corruption cases (whistleblowing). These are already giving dividends that give discomfort to corrupt people, but I think we are on the right trajectory”, she said.

The envoy, who was in Kwara state on the invitation of the owner of a pioneer private radio station in the state, Engineer Gbenga Adebayo, also visited Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, the federation of female lawyers, members of commerce and industries and civil society groups in the state.

She said that interaction with the business community in the state had focused on areas of trade relations, business challenges and job creation opportunities between the businessmen and the British government towards arriving at a mutually beneficial and profit-oriented arrangement in such areas as agriculture, mining, export between them.

The envoy also said that two winners had emerged in a one-minute video competition she set up among Nigeria’s girl children on the international day of the girl child, adding that it was aimed at encouraging girl child education and investment in them.

“I started the competition a few weeks ago asking girl children around the country to send one minute video of themselves setting out why the rights to girl matter and what would they do to promote them if they had the chance. The objective was to get young girls who could take up my job someday as British deputy high commissioner in Lagos. We have identified two winners. There was a tie and two winners have emerged”, she.

She identified challenges among female children in the country to include access to quality education, violence against girl children like s3xual violence, access to property, finance, land etc.

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