The United States has accepted to support the Federal Government recover all stolen funds from the national treasury stashed in foreign banks.
This was part of the decisions reached at the end of a meeting of the Bi-National Commission (BCN) between Nigeria and America held in Washington DC.
Some of the countries where looted funds from Nigeria have been kept in the past include Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Others are France, Germany, British Virgin Islands and other tax havens spread across the globe.
At a meeting with the United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, President Muhammadu Buhari declared that his administration will continue to vigorously prosecute its war against corruption.
Buhari received an assurance from Kerry that the United States Government will facilitate the repatriation of all stolen Nigerian funds found within the American banking system.
“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 Kerry.
Responding, the Secretary of State said that he has been told that the stolen Nigerian funds were in “billions of dollars”.
“It’s not easy to hide that amount of money and we are pretty good in tracing them,” Kerry assured Buhari, adding that relevant United States Government Officials will meet with the chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to discuss further cooperation in that regard.
According to a communiqué issued after the meeting, both countries agreed to collaborate to strengthen joint efforts at improving good governance, fight corruption and enhance the delivery of public service.
At the meeting, the US Government said that it would continue its support to EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies, as appropriate to achieve efficient working of both economic and political environment for the country.
The BNC discussed the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the Partnership on Illicit Finance (PIF). The United States noted the potential benefits to Nigeria of membership in these two initiatives. The Nigerian side agreed to respond to the outstanding invitations to join these partnerships in due course.
It said that BCN noted the governments’ decision to intensify their work together to help Nigeria trace funds and assets stolen through corruption and other illicit activities and seek to recover the assets was commendable.
Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, and Deputy Secretary Antony Blinken chaired the meeting, which focused on good governance issues.
Also, the United States noted the historical importance of Nigeria’s 2015 elections and the peaceful transition that ensued.
America expressed her readiness to support Nigeria’s efforts towards improving the quality of elections, and looks to Nigeria to support elections and democracy throughout Africa.
The BNC also noted the need to build stronger national institutional frameworks for peace building and conflict management to strengthen Nigeria’s democracy and promote inclusive prosperity.
The BNC established a working group on governance and democracy and directed that it meets within six months to review progress on joint goals.
Both countries also decided to expand people-topeople contacts between the two countries, including efforts such as the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
The meeting on economic growth and development was co-chaired by Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and Deputy Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.
Both sides acknowledged the major outcomes of the Business Forum, which stressed the need for increased United States investments in Nigeria through the provision of an enhanced business climate, policy predictability, and transparency.
The Federal Government, at the meeting, agreed to take further actions to promote prosperity and growth, economic diversification and job creation through policies that will improve the environment for doing business together.
In this respect, the BNC recognised that sound macroeconomic policies are important to managing the challenges of declining global oil prices.
The BNC noted the governments’ pledge to work together to ensure maximum utilisation of current programmes to promote trade and in vestment, including the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
“At its working lunch, the BNC discussed issues including climate change, strengthening ECOWAS to promote regional economic integration, and the potential provision of UN financial support for conflict prevention, and the financing of UN Security Council-approved African Union peacekeeping operations,” the statement said.
In the areas of security, the US agreed to support Nigeria in strengthening security and economic cooperation that could end the insurgency in the North-East and improve peace in the country.
Nigeria and America said they will collaborate to improve security along the Lake Chad Basin area, especially the threat to peace and security posed by Boko Haram sect.
The BNC’s discussion on security cooperation was co-chaired by Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), Minister of Defence and the Deputy Secretary of State, Blinken.
Both countries noted the continued threat to peace and security posed by Boko Haram, which is now an affiliate of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The United States reaffirmed its support for Nigeria and its neighbours in countering this threat.
The two governments’ bilateral security cooperation focuses both on immediate threats and medium and long-term security and stabilisation objectives.
The BNC discussed the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria and the region, and the governments decided to work together to create conditions for their safe and voluntary return.
“The BNC noted the governments’ pledge to work together to ensure maximum utilisation of current programmes to promote trade and investment, including AGOA and TIFA,” the statement added.
During a meeting with President Buhari, Kerry applauded the Buhari administration’s success in rolling back the Boko Haram insurgency, saying that the United States will continue to give Nigeria all possible support to ensure that the terrorist sect is finally eliminated as a threat to national and regional security.
The Secretary of State also praised Buhari’s clear order that Nigeria’s Armed Forces must show greater regard for the human rights of persons in the theatre of operations against Boko Haram.
Acknowledging that the United States has been of great help to his administration in the retraining and re-equipping of the Nigerian Armed Forces that has resulted in the significant success already achieved against Boko Haram, Buhari said that the Federal Government was now working very hard to restore full normalcy in the North Eastern states.
“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,” the president told Kerry.