President Muhammadu Buhari has said he does not want an apology from David Cameron for calling his country fantastically corrupt, but a return of the billions taken out of his country and sent to the UK.
Speaking at a Commonwealth anti-corruption conference, he said: “What would I do with an apology? I need something tangible. I am not going to demand any apology from anyone. What I am demanding is a return of assets.”
Waghorn: Will you like an apology from the Prime Minister?
Buhari: No, no. Not at all.
Waghorn: Are you embarrassed by what he (Cameron) said?
Buhari: No, I’m not.
Waghorn: Is Nigeria fantastically corrupt?
Buhari said it was well established that Nigerian assets were being stolen on an industrial scale, often being sent through financial centres such as London. The country had lost billions through stolen oil and leading politicians taking money. It was now facing disaster, he said.
“With the collapse of the oil price we need every cent we can get now just to pay salaries, if not for anything else.”
Asked at the event if Nigeria was a “fantastically corrupt” country, Buhari thought for a moment and said: “Yes.”
He refused, however, to say whether he regarded Cameron’s remarks as rude, saying that Britain had led in trying to track down former Nigerian government members who had acted disgracefully.
He also praised British law enforcement agencies for arresting former Nigerian governors, including some who dressed as women to get out of the UK, clearly referring to Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Mahu said proceeds from the sale of stolen Nigerian oil were among the funds routed through the UK. “London is the capital of money-laundering,” he said.
“Over the years 2014 to 2015, they [the old administration] brought in not less than $37bn into London from Nigeria. They take away oil, and they route the money through London – we suspect not less than $37bn.”
EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Mahu said his hardest task was the resistance faced by Buhari’s administration. “We need to put our heads together, and get our act together to fight corruption. Corruption fighting back – I think that is the most difficult obstacle. When they fight back, they fight from all angles.
“The president is committed to fighting corruption – that is our strength. He’s not just pretending.”