By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA – British and Swiss government on Tuesday pledged to return looted Nigerian funds stashed away in various personal bank accounts in their countries.
The two countries also promised to work with Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and other anti-graft agencies to prevent official corruption and theft.
The developments followed President Mohammadu Buhari applauds and remarks that the two countries had been of tremendous assistance to Nigeria in the anti-corruption war of his government.
The President however called for the speeding up of the processes of investigation, prosecution and repatriation of public funds stolen by past corrupt public officials and their accomplices.
The president spoke at separate audiences with the new British High Commissioner, Mr. Paul Arkwright and Swiss Ambassadors, Mr. Eric Mayoraz who were at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to present their letters of credence.
He said: ‘‘Switzerland and Britain have been very helpful indeed in the recovery of our assets. But we must build on what we have started.
‘‘It is also important to send a signal to the elite that it is no longer business as usual. I personally appreciate the efforts of Prime Minister David Cameron on this issue.
“He has honoured his commitments to us.
He promised to support our government to build a strong and dynamic economy and he has been faithful to his words,’’ President Buhari told Arkwright.
Also speaking, Mr. Arkwright assured the president of Britain’s preparedness to give Nigeria the fullest possible support and assistance in the recovery of its looted resources.
‘‘We are most ready to help. We have a good team at the National Crime Agency (NCA) working with your Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Tell us where and how we can help and we will provide the assistance,’’ he said.
In the same vein, President Buhari also welcomed assurances from the new Swiss Ambassador, Mr. Eric Mayoraz that his country will expedite action on the repatriation of millions of dollars stolen by past Nigerian public officials and still held in Swiss Banks.
‘‘I am very pleased and we will get our Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work with you to ensure that all the stolen funds are returned safely to government coffers as quickly as possible,” Buhari told the new Swiss Ambassador.
President Buhari also received the letters of credence of the Ambassador of the State of Palestine, Mr. Saleh Fhied Saleh, the Ambassador of Myanmar, Mr. Tha Aung Nyun and the Ambassador of Slovakia, Mr. Peter Holasek.