Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari stated in London Wednesday that Nigeria needs no apologies from the United Kingdom, but a return of all its stolen assets stashed away in Britain and its Crown territories.
Buhari spoke in London at the Tackling Corruption Together Conference ahead of the International Anti-Corruption Summit to be hosted on Thursday by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“All I will demand is return of assets. What would I do with apology? I need something tangible,” Buhari said less than 24 hours after the publication of a video which shows Cameron describing Nigeria and Afghanistan as the two most corrupt countries in the world.
“Unfortunately, repatriating stolen assets is tedious, time-consuming, costly. It entails more than just signing of bilateral agreements.”
In an earlier response to the Cameron’s comments, Nigeria’s presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the country was embarrassed by the comments and noted that it did not reflect present realities.
“This is embarrassing to us, to say the least, given the good work that the President is doing. The eyes of the world are on what is happening here. The Prime Minister must be looking at an old snapshot of Nigeria. Things are changing with corruption and everything else,” Shehu said in a message posted on social media.
However, Buhari insisted that Nigeria was ready to partner with the UK in order to combat corruption. He hoped the two countries would be able to agree on rules-based architecture to combat corruption at the end of the Summit on Thursday.
“I call for establishment of an anti-corruption infrastructure that will trace and return stolen assets to their countries of origin.
Corruption does not differentiate between developed and developing countries. It is a serious threat to good governance, peace and security.”
He re-emphasized his government’s zero-tolerance for corruption and its spiritedness to fight the ‘monster’, “even if many feathers would be ruffled.”