Use of recovered loot subject to international agreements, says Malami
Attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami has stated that stolen funds recovered from foreign countries are subject to international agreements by the parties involved.
This was contained in a statement signed and released on Tuesday by the Malami’s spokesperson, Umar Gwandu.
According to the minister, such recoveries are not subject to local legislation in view of multiple sovereignties involved.
Recall that attorneys-general of the 36 states sued by the AGF over the alleged failure of the federal government to remit recovered funds into the federation account.
As part of the reliefs sought, they had asked the court for “an order directing the president, the minister of finance, the office of the AGF, the accountant-general of the federation and the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, to determine forthwith, the modalities for distributing the receipts from seized, forfeited and recovered assets among the federal, state and local government from the federation account”.
Reacting to the development via a statement, Malami said there is no particular provision in Nigeria’s Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission Act to address the usage of such funds.
“Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission Act has nothing specific on funds recovered from indicted public officers. It merely mentions accruals and disbursement of revenue from the federation account. So, questions of recovery of stolen funds from indicted public officers are appropriately dealt with by other relevant laws,” he said.
“It is, therefore, misleading to give the impression that such recoveries and usage of stolen funds and stashed abroad are provided for by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act.
“One cannot situate rights and entitlements on looted funds and recovered assets with myopic and narrow understating of concepts of the application of local legislations.
“For the avoidance of doubt and the purpose of setting the record straight, the application of the looted funds can only be factored within the context of mutual understanding and negotiations of international and multifaceted jurisdictional and territorial legislative issues.
“The recovery of stolen assets and the subsequent uses to which these funds may be employed are subject to international agreements between Nigeria and the affected countries, thereby bringing conflict of laws into contemplation.
“Importantly also, these repatriated funds are based on cooperation and mutual assistance agreements, especially the United Nation Convention against Corruption and Implementation of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) Principles on the Repatriation of Stolen Assets. The African Union and the ECOWAS Protocols on recovery of illicit funds are equally relevant when it comes to the role of Nigeria in relation to its other partners.”
Malami further stated that “as a member of the committee of nations and a respectable international partner, Nigeria must always strive to fulfill its international commitments in the repatriation and use of stolen funds and assets”.
“By way of example, the Federal Government of Nigeria has entered into numerous agreements such as the one with the United States and the Island of Jersey in 2020 and including with other countries around the world. Where the agreements assume an international character, the specifics of the agreement often dictate the trajectory of recovery, sharing, transfer and implementation,” he added.
“Some elements misunderstood the issue of international recoveries and locally generated funds in relation to monies belonging to the federal government that are locally generated. It is not to be confused with stolen funds and assets domiciled in foreign jurisdictions whose recovery and subsequent repatriation are based on international legal arrangements between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the foreign custodians of these funds.
“It needs to be further noted that even recoveries of local assets are in most cases regulated by the applicable legislations and judicial pronouncements associated with these legislations and not Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission Act exclusively. One can cite for the purpose of clarity recoveries done by the NDLEA, EFCC, ICPC, among others.”
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