By Jeffrey Adaralegbe
The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Abdulrasheed Bawa in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia called for enhanced international collaboration in asset recovery efforts.
He made the plea while signing a memorandum of understanding, MoU with the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (NAZAHA) of Saudi Arabia, a development which marked a significant milestone in strengthening international partnerships to address the complex challenges posed by corruption. The event was a follow up to the EFCC Chairman’s participation in the Ministerial Meeting of Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Authorities in the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) Member States in December, 2022 to adopt the Makkah Al-Mukarramah Convention, where the two agencies had resolved to reinforce their commitment to combat corruption with an MoU.
The NAZAHA is the lead anti-corruption agency in Saudi Arabia and shoulders the responsibility of safeguarding integrity in both public and private sectors. The agency plays a crucial role in combating corruption, gathering data, and compiling statistics on agencies falling under its purview, while also coordinating anti-corruption efforts across the public and private sectors.
A significant component of the visit was the sharing of experiences and insights on asset recovery. The EFCC, recognized as a global leader in this domain, delivered a special presentation on its extensive expertise in asset recovery.
During a presentation, the EFCC boss underscored the factors that contribute to a successful asset recovery regime, emphasizing the criticality of access to relevant information through intelligence-gathering and seamless information exchange with partner law enforcement agencies, as well as regional and international networks.
Significantly, Bawa highlighted the instrumental role of West Africa’s Network of National Anti-Corruption Agencies (NACIWA), an esteemed network which he currently leads, in facilitating regular law enforcement cooperation, joint investigations, and coordinated efforts in asset recovery and extradition.
Emphasizing the need for a robust legal framework, Bawa further identified the critical role of comprehensive laws for prosecuting both conviction and non-conviction-based asset forfeiture, adding that such legal measures would serve as a deterrent and enable the recovery of stolen assets for public good.
He further reiterated the significance of trust-building among law enforcement agencies and stressed the importance of global heads of law enforcement agencies establishing strong relationships amongst themselves, based on trust and shared goals in combating corruption..
In his closing statement, Mr. Mazen bin Ibrahim bin Mohammed Al-Kahmous, the President of NAZAHA, expressed gratitude to the EFCC Chairman for the extensive and insightful presentation, which shed light on the EFCC’s invaluable experiences in the field of asset recovery. He extended a request for an expanded experience-sharing visit by the EFCC’s asset recovery experts to the Saudi Anti-Corruption agency which will provide an opportunity for both agencies to delve further into the intricate workings of the international asset recovery legal framework, allowing for more in-depth discussions and collaboration.
Before returning to Nigeria, Bawa will also have the privilege of visiting the Saudi Ministry of Finance for a presentation on the renowned E-Procurement Platform, Etimad. This interactive session will serve as an opportunity to exchange experiences and discuss effective strategies to combat corruption in public procurement.
The Saudi Government has successfully implemented Etimad, as a way of mitigating the risk of corruption in procurement-related matters.
This visit of the Executive Chairman to Saudi Arabia reflects the EFCC’s unwavering commitment to combating corruption and strengthening international partnerships. By sharing best practices, exchanging knowledge, and fostering trust, the EFCC and NAZAHA have paved the way for enhanced cooperation, ensuring the recovery of stolen assets and holding criminals accountable.