Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has called for stringent action against perpetrators of illicit financial flows, including crackdown on safe havens to  discourage the pilfering of the country’s resources to the detriment of its vulnerable populace.

Speaking in Paris, France on Sunday at the first edition of the Paris Peace Forum held on the sidelines of the Centenary of Armistice Day, President Buhari said the country has strengthened its laws and institutions to fight corruption and fast-track the recovery of all stolen assets.

Delivering his statement titled ‘Illicit Financial Flows and Corruption: The Challenge of Global Governance’, the president said with the help and support of the international community, all offenders will be brought to book.

His words: “We must crack down on safe havens for corrupt assets. I also advocate sanctions by professional bodies against transactional middlemen (lawyers, bankers, brokers, public officials, etc.) who facilitate Illicit Financial Flows.

“I would like to reiterate that the Government of Nigeria remains open and ever willing to continue to identify and share experiences and strategies to give life to the ideas that will lead to winning the fight against corruption.”

While noting that illicit financial flows pose a risk to the realization of his administration’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Buhari said a few privileged individuals have continued to exploit the weaknesses in the nation’s financial systems.

“Our experience in Nigeria is that financial crimes, such as corruption and fraudulent activities generate enormous unlawful profits which often prove so lucrative that the threat of a jail term is not sufficient to deter perpetrators.

“A more powerful deterrent is to ensure that profits and assets generated from illicit financial flows and corruption are recovered and returned to countries of origin. This is not to under-estimate the value of strong institutions.

“It only indicates that asset recovery represents significant deterrence compared to the traditional focus on obtaining conviction by the law enforcement agencies of the countries of origin,” Buhari added.

He therefore urged world leaders and global institutions to remain resolute on the Global Declaration Against Corruption made in London in 2016 which encapsulates the collective commitment to the principles of Open Government Partnership.