Corruption: Presidency attacks ex-UK minister for asking investors to shun Nigeria

Nigeria’s presidency has launched a stinging attack on Priti Patel, a former United Kingdom minister who advised foreign investors to avoid Nigeria due to galloping corruption and failure to obey court orders by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Patel, an ex-United Kingdom Secretary for International Development has warned foreign investors against investing in Nigeria, saying the country is more corrupt now than it was in 2015.

The ex-minister, who wrote an article advising investors in City A.M, a London business newspaper also said President Muhammadu Buhari has a penchant for disrespecting court orders which is inimical to business success.

She noted that despite Buhari’s claim of fighting corruption, “Transparency International has not seen any reduction in corruption since Buhari took office. In fact, the precise opposite has happened, with Nigeria falling 12 places between the 2016 and 2017 rankings.”

Patel added that “President Buhari currently faces serious allegations, which include staging show trials of opponents of a regime that is accused of corruption and graft, while simultaneously shielding his own party members and inner circle.”

However, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, on Tuesday in Abuja descibed Patel’s claim as a “wicked proposition…lacking in substance and devoid of merit in empirical evidence established by facts.”

He added that the issue raised by Patel about lack of security of investment was equally false and untenable.

“[The Nigerian government] recognized the right of the investor, both local and foreign, as enshrined in our Constitution which states clearly that no investment can be taken from its owners without recourse to the law.

“Given the Constitution, you don’t even need international protection for assets held in this country. In addition to the Constitution, there exist several laws allowing protection for investments.

“Beyond this, this administration has moved forward by recognizing arbitration processes. The judiciary in the country has a Practice Code to give legitimacy to awards and arbitration clauses in agreements.

“Cumulatively, we have established a proper climate of investment on account of which, the nation has gained 24 points of excellence in the global ease of doing business index,’’ he explained.

He added that in Patel’s main case of the 2010 agreement between “NNPC and P&ID for a 20-year contract to create a new natural gas development refinery, we do not wish to plead the government’s case in the press.”

The presidency stated that the project fell through after a “past Nigerian government reneged on its contractual commitments,

“Suffice it to say that the government of Nigeria, in recognition of the sanctity of the judiciary, has submitted to the jurisdiction of a court in the United States to determine the issues in dispute.

“What we can only say at this point is that Nigerians need to pity their own country for the way things were done in the past.’’

It observed that the Buhari administration had done well in policy decisions, saying that the administration had put in place instruments that had extraordinarily and unprecedentedly reduced corruption and corrupt practices.

According to him, the Buhari administration has achieved 1,360 per cent cash recoveries in three years than the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“By the time President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in and took office, the only amount in the anti-corruption recovery account over 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party was only N2 billion.

“This account has succeeded in netting over N400 billion as of today, translating to 1,360 per cent increase. This cannot amount to nothing in terms of progress,’’ it said.

Shehu also noted that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) had led to greater visibility and control of government funds by way of consolidating government resources in an account as against the past where such accounts were scattered.

He said that Bank Verification Number (BVN) scheme had equally helped the government to prevent money laundering, financing terrorism and illicit cash transfers.

“This administration has introduced the IPPS, whose implementation has led to an extra-ordinary reduction of ghost workers, saving the treasury billions of naira, every month.

“The Whistle Blower mechanism put in place has yielded enormously to the treasury and reduced corruption.

“In addition to several and urgent legislations targeted at the reduction of corruption, the administration has equally signed highly rewarding Mutual Legal Assistance with countries that have translated to tremendous recoveries,’’ he said.

The government recalled that before the inception of present administration, there existed a racket encompassing elements in the three arms of government, “through the activities of which artificial, engineered and factored breaches of contract were made.

“In the fullness of time, more will be said by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.’’

NAN

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