By Kenneth Atavti
The African Union and the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) are to hold a high-level technical meeting with top government officials and heads of anti-corruption and asset recovery agencies from Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Senegal and Malawi this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Senior government officials and renowned high level experts from Algeria, Cameroun, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda, as well as the Heads of relevant Pan-African institutions such as the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) are to attend the high-level meeting on the implementation of the Common African Position on Asset Recovery (CAPAR) in Ethiopia from November 3 to 4, 2022.
CAPAR is the bedrock for Africa’s legal instrument and technical framework for negotiating the return of assets and funds taken illicitly from the continent and hosted in foreign jurisdictions.
The Executive Director of CoDA, the Secretariat of the African Union High-Level Panel on Stemming Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, Ms. Souad Aden-Osman, confirmed the high-level meeting on CAPAR in a statement on Tuesday.
Aden-Osman disclosed that the high-level meeting would consider the draft legal framework for asset recovery by African States as well as the proposal for setting up an escrow account for recovered African Assets.
She said, “The draft legal framework for asset recovery by African States proposes a comprehensive approach to the implementation of the Asset Recovery approach in a holistic way. The Framework highlights the key legal issues that African States face in recovering their assets.”
On the escrow account, the CoDA Executive Director explained that the proposal recommended innovative ways in which an escrow account or multiple escrow accounts could be established to preserve and grow assets of African origin kept outside the respective countries at great loss and to the detriment of development aspirations of African States.
“It is expected that the high-level meeting will consider the draft legal framework for asset recovery and the proposal for setting up escrow account as working papers for their technical review The two documents will then be forwarded to the leadership of the African Union Commission for consideration by the relevant organs of the AU in view of their adoption and galvanization to AU Member States” Aden-Osman noted.
She added that the two instruments, to be proposed by the AU Commission to the African Union Member Stares, would strengthen the implementation of the CAPAR at national, sub-regional and regional level by providing African countries with ready to use tools for pursuing illicit financial flows.
Nigerian pilot recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and AU Champion on the African Anti-Corruption Year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (February 2019) had affirmed the need to develop a common African position on the recovery of African assets hosted in foreign jurisdictions. This recommendation was adopted by African Union Heads of Government in February 2020.
Nigeria’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is a focal agency on CAPAR and has a standing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CoDA. The anti-corruption agency will be participating in the high-level meeting on CAPAR in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
CAPAR aims to assist African Union Member States to identify, repatriate and effectively manage these assets in a manner that respects their sovereignty. It outlines Africa’s priorities for asset recovery in four pillars: detection and identification of illicitly removed assets; recovery and return of illicitly removed assets; management of recovered assets; and cooperation and partnerships to harmonize the process of identification and recovery.