Nigerian anti-corruption drive sets a welcome example, says UN anti-crime chief

Nigerian anti-corruption drive sets a welcome example, says UN anti-crime chief

The head of the United Nations anti-crime agency today praised the efforts of Nigeria to bring about what he called a “climate change” in attitudes and actions about corruption in a country that has long suffered from the ruinous effects of the practice.

Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) welcomed a series of recent initiatives by Nigerian authorities to combat corruption, but urged them to do more to crack down, particularly on cyber-crime.

“Thanks to strong political leadership and a fearless anti-corruption agency, high-level officials who used to be esteemed or feared because of the money that they stole are now behind bars,” he said in a speech to a seminar on economic crime in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

He paid particular credit to the work of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which he described as the “most effective anti-corruption agency in Africa,” and called on the Government to ensure that the Commission has the independence and resources to carry out its mandate effectively.

Mr. Costa also welcomed Nigeria’s greater international cooperation on the issue, such as by participating in the UNODC and World Bank Stolen Asset (StAR) Recovery Initiative, which is helping to recover some of the estimated $400 billion stolen from the national coffers between 1960 and 1999.

The Executive Director reaffirmed the commitment of UNODC to assist in the process of strengthening judicial integrity in Nigeria and to improve transparency and accountability in business transactions in the African nation.

“Such checks and balances can ensure that, unlike in the past, Nigeria’s wealth – particularly from oil and gas – will be shared by all of its citizens rather than a few corrupt leaders.”

In addition, he called on foreign companies that operate in Nigeria to assume corporate responsibility for their activities.

“If you contribute to corruption, you contribute to instability and increase your own costs and insecurity, not to mention the damage caused to the environment and the lives of vulnerable people – look no further than the Niger Delta.”