CSOs Ask FG To ‘Urgently’ Investigate Nigerians Named In Pandora Papers

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Civil society organisations (CSOs) have called on the federal government to begin investigation into persons and companies named in the Pandora Papers.

The Pandora Papers project is led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which Premium Times is a part of.

The Pandora Papers contain leaked files reportedly gotten from offshore service firms around the world.

According to Premium Times, Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra; Gboyega Oyetola, current Osun governor, and Stella Oduah, a serving senator, are among those who have allegedly benefitted illegally from offshore service firms.

However, Oyetola and Obi, in separate statements, have denied breaking any law.

In a statement issued on Monday by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Transparency International (TI) in Nigeria, and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), the CSOs said they would ensure that revelations from the Pandora Papers are not treated with levity.

“The coalition of CISLAC, Transparency International in Nigeria, and the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism urgently calls on President Buhari, the Honorable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, and all anti-corruption agencies to immediately commence actions to investigate all the people and companies indicted in the stories and revelations of dirty financial deals so far published by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism,” the statement reads.

“Furthermore, we call on civil society organisations to urgently come together to track and document the reports and commence efforts to ensure the exposure does not go the way of the 2017 and 2016 Paradise and Panama Papers.

“We urge the federal government to consider policy reforms and institutional strengthening necessary to curb the abuse of financial systems and ease the prosecution of violators.”

According to the CSOs, the system of asset declaration in Nigeria is “dysfunctional and a major enabler of corruption”, and they asked the federal government to, among other things, “strengthen the Code of Conduct Bureau by digitising the assets declaration processes, documentation and verification, and the prosecution of violators”.

The organisations also urged the federal government to “reopen the Voluntary Asset and Income Disclosure Scheme (VAIDS) and the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme (VOARS) to enable Nigerians with undisclosed (offshore) assets to declare them and pay taxes where they are liable”.

“The federal government must equally work with the national assembly to remove all the obstacles to public access to asset declarations of every eligible public officer,” they said.

The CSOs also requested that the federal government fully implements the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, which provides for the setting up of a beneficial ownership register to “prevent the diversion of public funds through procurement corruption”.

They also urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as well as the ministries of justice and foreign affairs to “work in synergy and engage their international counterparts to ensure that global enablers/middlemen like lawyers, notaries, accountants who help facilitate money laundering and tax evasion are blacklisted, deregistered, or held to account under the several national laws, policies and international frameworks to which Nigeria is a signatory”.

– The Cable

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