The Nigerian Government has in a while now been receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign countries belonging to some prominent Nigerians and this has brought a lot of concern as to how many more of such wealth is in other countries of the world belonging to the Nigerian Government which the country is yet to know about.
When it comes to asset declarations, there has been a lot of denials as to what some own even within the country not to mention the assets they own that are in other neighboring African countries and across the shores of Africa.
A lot of funds that should have been used to better the lives of the people are most times being used to establish businesses or saved in other countries while the country itself and the entire citizens suffer from the adverse effect of not meeting the needs in which the money was to be used for.
But in this quest for transparency, Muhammadu Buhari the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria signed an Amended 2018 Executive Order 008 on Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (VOARS) to enable voluntary declaration of assets overseas owned by political or government appointees.
The Special Assistant to the Attorney general of the Federation and the Minister of Justice on Media and Public Relations disclosed this on Thursday, 21 May, 2020 in Abuja.
His disclosure are as follows:
“As a result of stakeholders input and need to strengthen implementation mechanisms and structures, the Order was reviewed”.
“Consequently, the Amendment to the Executive Order 008 was signed on May 20th by President Buhari”.
He further said that Executive Order 008 as amended mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation to set up and implement a Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme which was otherwise referred to as ‘VOARS’.
“VOARS gives all relevant persons and their intermediaries who have defaulted in the declaration of their offshore assets the opportunity to voluntarily declare and regularize their offshore assets, subject to the fulfillment of the terms and conditions stipulated in the Order and other subsequent regulations”.
Mr. Gwandu disclosed that in order to ensure a seamless exchange of information, VOARS will work closely with the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) which has worldwide access to relevant financial information.
“The government hopes that relevant persons amongst Nigerians, their entities, and intermediaries will seize the opportunity provided by VOARS to declare and regularize their offshore assets before it is too late.
“Relevant persons who voluntarily declare their offshore assets and pay the stipulated levy to the government will receive compliance certificates which allow them to use their residual assets freely without hindrance.
“The recoveries accruing to the government will be used for essential infrastructure development for the benefit of Nigerians”. He warned defaulters who may be tempted to continue the concealment of their offshore assets of the power enshrined in the Executive Order 00 as amended.
“It stipulates that ‘any domestic or foreign bank, asset manager or intermediary that cooperates with defaulters, enabling them to conceal offshore assets and obligations pertaining to them shall, upon discovery will be liable to pay to the federal government a penalty on the total of such offshore assets, in addition to other penalties provided for under the Nigerian law or laws of foreign countries from which Nigeria can benefit.
By: Ayooluwa Joshua