As the world converges in London to review strategies to tackle corruption, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Monsurat Sunmonu, has called for a multi-lateral approach to loot prevention and recovery from all nations of the world.
Sunmonu, who made the call in an interview with The Nation, said offering protection for loots from other countries is a strong hindrance to efforts at preventing and recovering looting across the nations of the world. She posited that no single country can fight corruption alone in the face of technology that has changed the world to a global village.
The lawmaker also reiterated the position at the Westminster Community of Practice conference in London last week.
The purpose of the Conference was to build on outputs from the regional workshops to present the International Parliamentarians’ Handbook as a resource for parliamentarians in their engagement with the new Sustainable Development Framework, encouraging parliaments in their role as key stakeholders in the implementation of these targets.
Sen. Sunmonu encouraged countries to come together to help resolve the problem. The Westminster Community of Practice, a collection of organisations working on parliamentary strengthening, met at Canada House for their third meeting with the theme: Curbing Corruption: the role of parliamentarians’.
At the conference, Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the International Development Committee (IDC), chaired the discussion. Twigg highlighted the importance of the inquiry the IDC are about to start looking into the role the United Kingdom (UK) plays in tackling corruption before the Prime Minister’s expected summit on anti-corruption this month.
“What we do in our own parliament must be assessed first before we develop a policy to tackle global corruption” he said.
A Senior Advocacy Manager at Transparency International, Rachael Davies, reaffirmed the importance of getting the UK’s house in order first to avoid risking a lack of credibility.
“It is great to encourage others, but we also need to clean up our own backyard” she said, highlighting weaknesses in the UK anti-money laundering system. Nigeria has enough domestic focussed legislation to fight corruption.
“As regards this already existing legislation, I believe the role the legislature can play is more review based, to ensure the existing legislation is more robust, by closing loopholes that have been exploited over the years. An important development is financial autonomy and independence of these agencies, so that they themselves are not the subject of corruption.
“I also think that the punishments for corruption need to be made more of a deterrent. This does not however apply only to Nigeria. I often see in the news corruption cases being punished with a slap on the wrists. Yes, each country is to determine its own individual policy as regards punishment, but with the world becoming a smaller place a consensus needs to be reached.
“Where I believe a lot more can be done is in the international sphere. And what I mean by this, is that there is a lot of ill-gotten wealth from Nigeria all over the world. President Buhari has visited many of the countries where investigations reveal this wealth has been stashed. This is where the legislature can really come to the fore.
“You see, any bilateral or multilateral agreement, or MoU signed will be key to repatriating Nigeria’s wealth, and also acting as a deterrent in the future. Simply because when a criminal knows that there is nowhere to hide he or she may not steal.
It is the legislature’s role to ensure that such agreements signed by the Executive are domesticated and become law. In my capacity as Chair of the National Assembly Committees on Foreign Affairs, my team and I are currently reviewing existing agreements and pushing for ratification of those that have not been previously ratified.”