President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, called on Britain, Switzerland and other foreign anti-crime agencies to speed up the processes of investigation, prosecution and repatriation of the country’s funds stolen by corrupt public officials and their accomplices.
It will be recalled that former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Dieziani Alison Madueke, is being held alongside four others in London by the United Kingdom (UK)’s National Crimes Agency (NCA) over allegations of bribery and money laundering.
President Buhari, who applauded the renewed support from Britain and Switzerland for the recovery and repatriation of public funds stolen from the country, said the effort would send a signal to the elite that “it is no longer business as usual.”
He spoke at separate audiences with the new British and Swiss ambassadors, who were at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to present their letters of credence.
Buhari noted that British, Swiss and other foreign anti-crime agencies had already given his administration much help with relevant information and intelligence on public funds that were stolen and illegally transferred to personal bank accounts by officials of past administrations.
“Switzerland and Britain have been very helpful, indeed, in the recovery of our assets. But we must build on what we have started. It is also important to send a signal to the elite that it is no longer business as usual. I personally appreciate the efforts of Prime Minister David Cameron on this issue.
“He has honoured his commitments to us. He promised to support our government to build a strong and dynamic economy and he has been faithful to his words,” the President told the new British High Commissioner, Mr. Paul Arkwright.
Arkwright assured him of Britain’s preparedness to give Nigeria the fullest possible support and assistance in the
recovery of its looted resources.
‘‘We are most ready to help. We have a good team at the National Crime Agency (NCA) working with your Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Tell us where and how we can help and we will provide the assistance,’’ the British High Commissioner assured the President.
Buhari also welcomed assurances from the new Swiss Ambassador, Mr. Eric Mayoraz, that his country will expedite action on the repatriation of millions of dollars stolen by Nigerian public officials and still held in Swiss banks.
‘‘I am very pleased and we will get our Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work with you to ensure that all the stolen funds are returned safely to government coffers as quickly as possible,” the President told the Swiss Ambassador.
Buhari also received the letters of credence of the Ambassador of the State of Palestine, Mr. Saleh Fhied Saleh; the Ambassador of Myanmar, Mr. Tha Aung Nyun, and the Ambassador of Slovakia, Mr. Peter Holasek.