The United States government has said it will help Nigeria recover public funds running into “billions of dollars” stolen from Nigeria and believed to be hidden in banks in the US and other countries.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, made the pledge on Thursday in Washington DC while responding to comments by President Muhammadu Buhari on the commitment of his administration to the war against corruption and the need for the US government to help repatriate the country’s stolen wealth stashed abroad.
“It will greatly help our country if you assist us to recover all our stolen funds which we can establish to be within your financial system,” the president told Mr. Kerry.
Mr. Kerry in his response told Mr Buhari that he had learned that the money stolen from the country ran into “billions of dollars” and that the country’s officials were ready to work with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to find and return the stolen funds.
“It’s not easy to hide that amount of money and we are pretty good in tracing them,” Mr. Kerry assured President Buhari.
Soon after it was inaugurated, the Buhari administration initiated a campaign against corruption.
Several former officials, who are believed to have siphoned public funds, have been charged to court and are now facing trials.
Notable among them is the immediate past National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, who is facing charges of misappropriating $2.1 billion dollar meant for the procurement of arms for the armed forces to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kerry, while hailing the successes of the Buhari administration in curtailing Boko Haram, said the U.S. will not relent in giving Nigeria all possible support to make sure that the terrorists are completely defeated.
He, however, said the Nigerian military should do more to respect the human rights of the people within its theatre of operation.
Mr. Buhari thanked the US for its support in the fight, against Boko Haram, saying the government was doing everything to make sure normalcy returns to the northeast.
“Boko Haram no longer holds any local government area. We are reconstructing damaged facilities and preparing the police to take over and reassert civilian control over areas affected by the insurgency,” he said.