A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Arthur Obi Okafor has identified economic crimes, fraud and other white collar crimes as factors responsible for Nigerians living below the world poverty index.

He stated this in a lead paper he presented at the maiden edition of the Annual Criminal Law Review Conference, put together by the Rule of Law Development Foundation at the International Conference Center, Abuja, earlier this week.

According to the learned silk, recent examples of such crimes which are prevalent in Nigeria and has contributed in no small measure to the country’s slip into the148th position in the 2017 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International include the $ 24 billion NNPC contract scam, illegal reinstatement and promotion of Abdulrasheed Maina to the position of Acting Director in the Federal Civil Service, the $43 million, £27,000 and N23 million found stashed away in a flat in Ikoyi allegedly belonging to the National Intelligence Agency.

Others include the monumental fraud that pervaded the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), which came to fore after the surprised remittance of N7.8 billion to the Federal Government coffers by the Professor Ishaaq Oloyede’s management and the N200 million grass cutting scandal involving Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

These crimes, he stated, have a negative impact on the country and are the major causes of financial loss, poverty,huge debt profile and economic crisis in the country. He stressed that they hinder development through reduction in domestic investment, foreign direct investment, over bloated government expenditure, distorted allocation of government expenditure away from education, health and maintenance of public infrastructure.

While commending the prosecution, conviction and jailing of former governors Joshua Dariye of Plateau state and Jolly Nyame of Taraba state respectively for corruption during their stay in office, the silk recommended the non politicization of the fight against corruption, economic crime and fraud in Nigeria; synergy among the various anti graft agencies, continuous sensitization of civil servants and the masses on the negative impact of economic crimes on the economy, improved welfare of civil servants and stiffer punishment as the panacea to these nature of crimes in the country.

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