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Published On: Tue, Jul 21st, 2015

Obama Expresses Confidence on Buhari, as SERAP Wants US to Help Recover Nigeria’s Stolen Billions

Buhari and Obama

Buhari and Obama

LAGOS JULY 21ST (URHOBOTODAY)-U.S. President Barrack Obama says he has confidence that president Buhari will turn Nigeria economy around even as he described Nigeria as one of the most important countries in Africa.
Obama, who was hosting Buhari at the White House, described the process of Buhari becoming the president of Nigeria as true democratic that gave rooms for people to vote for a Presidential candidate of their choice
His words “Well, it’s a great pleasure to welcome President Buhari and his delegation here to the Oval Office for his first visit since the historic election that took place. “Nigeria is obviously one of the important countries in the world and one of the most important countries in the African continent.

“President Buhari comes into office with a reputation for integrity and a very clear agenda, and that is to make sure that he is bringing safety and security and peace to his country.
“He is very concerned about the spread of Boko Haram and the violence that is taken place there, and the atrocities that they have carried out, and has a very clear agenda in defeating Boko Haram and extremists of all sorts inside of his country. And he has a very clear agenda with respect to rooting out the corruption that too often has held back the economic growth and prosperity of his country.
“And we are very much look forward to talking about security issues, how we can cooperate on counterterrorism. We are also looking forward to discussing how we can be helpful in addressing some of the corruption issues that have held Nigeria back, and unleashing the incredible talent of the Nigerian people. We all recognize that some of the best business people in the world are from Nigeria, and they thrive as they travel to other countries, but we want to make sure that they are also helping folks thrive in Nigeria.
“Buhari, who thanked Ptesident Obama for making Nigeria to consolidate its gains on a democratic system, assured to put smile on the faces of Nigerians.
In another development, group under the aegis of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Obama to back up his expressed commitment on stolen assets by taking thoughtful and aggressive steps to deal with the problem with the seriousness and intensity that has been previously lacking.
In a statement today by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said that, “We welcome the commitment by President Obama to assist the Buhari government to track down billions of dollars in stolen assets from the country. However, greater efforts are required by the Obama government to follow through its commitment if it is to secure a measure of justice for Nigerian victims of corruption and money laundering.”
It asked President Obama to “establish a Presidential Advisory Committee and facilitate a Congressional Hearing on stolen assets from Nigeria. These initiatives would be tremendously important in bringing renewed attention to repatriation of stolen assets to Nigeria.”
“Corruption, money laundering and systematic violations of human rights go hand in hand and that is why President Obama should do everything within his power to get to the bottom of the stolen assets from Nigeria kept in the US.”
According to SERAP, President Obama should also propose legislation to assist Nigerians in pursuing stolen assets in US banks and other institutions, as any such legislation should also require every bank and financial institution doing business in the US and their European affiliates to post on a central Internet site bank accounts of politically exposed persons and their families and friends from Nigeria.
The organisation said that there is need for accountability for stolen funds, and there should not be a statute of limitations on stolen assets, adding that the Obama government should move quickly to resolve the issue of returning the assets to the country in an expeditious, just and fair manner. Unless this is done, the rare opportunity the Obama government now has to right the injustice aided and abetted by the US banks will be gone.
According to the organisation, “Recovering stolen assets from the US is a lingering issue that requires justice and fairness especially given the complicity of US banks and other institutions in corruption and money laundering in Nigeria, and the fact that stolen assets have contributed to the growth of US economy. Therefore, thoughtful and aggressive steps are needed if the Obama government is to change the asset recovery fatigue that characterised previous US administrations.”
“Indeed, the US government has an important responsibility to ensure not only that it returns stolen assets to the country but that it takes proactive steps to stop the stashing of such assets in its jurisdiction. When it comes to stolen assets from Nigeria the US government should use the same methodologies it adopts against terrorists using its banking system,” the organisation said.
“President Obama should also urge European governments and other financial centres keeping stolen assets from Nigeria to be more proactive in returning such assets through transparent procedures that are fair, just, and on the merits, without technical defenses. The Obama government can and should show the leadership in this field. If President Obama does not take the lead, the US and European financial centres will continue to serve as safe havens to stolen assets from Nigeria and elsewhere,” the organisation said.

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