President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said he is more interested in repatriating Nigeria’s stolen assets than any apology from British Prime Minister, David Cameron, following sour remarks ahead of the Anti – Corruption Summit in London.
He said this during a question and answer session with journalists after delivering a keynote address on “Why We Must Tackle Corruption Together” at a pre-summit conference of development partners, the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Transparency International and other civil society groups.
The President said Britain should be prepared to hand over to Nigeria assets left by former government officials, as he has nothing to do with apologies.
He maintained that what is uppermost in his mind is the return of assets and funds stacked away in Britain and other countries back to Nigeria.
“I am not going to demand an apology from anybody from anybody. All I will demand is the return of assets.
“I have already mentioned how Britain really led and how disgraceful one of the Nigerian executives was, he had to dress like a woman to leave Britain and leave behind his bank account and fixed assets, which Britain is prepared to handover to us.
“This is what I am asking for, what will I do with apology; I need something tangible”, he said.
Mr Cameron was caught on camera telling the Queen that the UK would be greeting leaders of some ‘fantastically corrupt’ nations on Thursday and citing Nigeria and Afghanistan as one of those countries.
The Anti-corruption Summit that will begin in the UK on Thursday is expected to come up with a declaration that will make it faster to repatriate all stolen funds back to their countries of origin.
The Acting High Commissioner of Nigeria to the United Kingdom, Mr Simon Orga, said the declaration would remove all obstacles and bottlenecks that had impeded the repatriation of such funds.
Agreement will also be reached on the repatriation or extradition of persons that had looted their nation’s funds to ensure they faced trial.
Mr Orga expressed optimism that the summit would remove all impediments to the efforts of the Nigerian President to get all stolen money in the UK repatriated.
“At the end of the conference there will be a declaration and it will focus on all stolen wealth that are in the UK to have them repatriated.
“It will be faster to facilitate the repatriation of the assets that are abroad and even the people behind it, leaving abroad could be extradited to Nigeria.
“It has gone beyond the shores of Nigeria and many world leaders already know the implication of fighting corruption and that is why they have conveyed the summit,” he told Channels Television’s correspondent, Chukwuma Onuekwusi.
The Presidency had on Tuesday said Mr. Cameron’s statement that Nigeria is a “fantastically corrupt” country is not reflective of the anti-corruption posture of the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
A spokesman for the President, Mr. Garba Shehu, gave the response hours after a video of a conversation between, Mr Cameron, Queen Elizabeth, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and the Speaker of parliament’s House of Commons, John Bercow was published online.
He said Buhari was changing all that was wrong with Nigeria, including corruption, stressing that the president’s efforts reflected in his selection as a keynote speaker at a pre-summit in London.
He said: “It (Cameron’s statement) is certainly not reflective of 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. That, we believe is the reason they chose him as a keynote speaker at the pre-summit conference”.
Mr Shehu further commended the Archbishop of Canterbury for emphasizing that President Buhari was not corrupt.
He said Nigeria cherished the good relationship between the two countries and that nothing would truncate the relationship.