Speaking at an anti-corruption event in London, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari asked the British authorities to return stolen Nigerian assets held in British banks, following British Prime Minister David Cameron’s labeling of Nigeria as a highly corrupt country.
Buhari responded that while he wasn’t offended by Cameron’s remarks, as they referred to the previous government led by Jonathan Goodluck, it was still imperative that the UK assist Nigeria in returning money he alleged to be hidden in British bank.
Last week, Nigerian authorities released estimates that some $15 billion of government money had been stolen through corrupt arms contracts under the previous government.
And in March, an official audit found that Nigeria's state-owned oil company, the National Petroleum Corporation, withheld $25 billion in oil revenues from the government.
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Buhari holds that high-level officials under Goodluck transferred state assets out of the country and parked them in UK as the preferred location.
Last October, former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke was arrested on the request of Nigerian authorities who alleged that $20 billion in oil money had gone missing under her watch. In addition to Alison-Madeueke, the UK National Crime Agency arrested her four brothers, all executives in UK-based oil companies. Her extradition to Nigeria to face corruption charges was denied by UK court.
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In 2005, Nigerian state governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha fled the UK disguised as a woman while on bail for corruption charges as British police found $1.8 million in cash in his London home.
A report published in 2010 accused some UK-based banks of assisting corrupt officials to transfer the money to UK, but the banks’ involvement was never investigated. The report said that five major UK banks have failed to adequately investigate the source of tens of millions of dollars taken from two Nigeria officials, tried and sentenced in UK.
By James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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