As part of efforts to end coups in West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States Council of Wise (ECOWAS COW), yesterday, commenced a two-day retreat and workshop in Lagos. The workshop aims, among other things, to develop modalities for operationalisation of the council and for members and the ECOWAS Commission to jointly develop and validate a one-year plan of action.

Chairman of ECOWAS COW and former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in his welcome speech, said the meeting would debrief and brainstorm on strategies for the COW to swiftly respond to and mitigate growing peace and security challenges in the region. “We will spend the next two days on this task of hammering out effective strategy and agenda for promoting peace, security and stability in our sub-region,” he said.

Jonathan noted that the sub-region has faced unsavoury developments that have continued to pose a challenge to peace, security and sustainable development. He noted: “Within the last two years, we have witnessed three military coups in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, as well as coup attempts in Niger and Guinea-Bissau.” He warned that the development poses a serious threat to democracy in ECOWAS, especially at a time when relentless onslaught by militants and terrorists across the Sahel and frontline countries has worsened the security situation in the sub-region.

Speaking on Nigeria’s 2023 general elections, the former President predicted that the outcome would be credible, saying there would be no crisis after the polls. He noted that elections often bring that the country would implode, which often is not the case. He said many parents who sent their children abroad, fearing a crisis after the 2015 election, were disappointed. According to him, the polls will come and go but Nigeria will remain.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom (UK), yesterday, signed an agreement with the Nigerian government, which will enable payment of £210,610 compensation to Nigeria, following a successful investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office on corruption in the oil and gas sector. The memorandum of understanding, signed between Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, and Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, sets out terms and understanding between both countries for the payment.

During the ceremony, which was held at the residence of the UK ambassador to Nigeria in Abuja, Ford said: “The Security and Defence Dialogue held in February 2022 between our two countries reaffirmed both the UK and Nigeria’s commitment to work together to tackle illicit financial flows, bribery and corruption. The UK has a zero-tolerance policy to corruption and we hope that today’s signing sends a clear statement about our commitment to this”.

The money was obtained through a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), which is when a prosecutor agrees to defer prosecution in exchange for the defendant agreeing to fulfil certain requirements such as accepting criminal liability for offences and paying appropriate compensation. She said the compensation payment from the UK to Nigeria demonstrates that when such acts of crime are identified, the UK SFO will investigate these companies and, where evidence is found, ensure they face appropriate sanctions.

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