Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Tuesday, rejected the call by human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), for stolen funds, especially the ones linked to the late Head of State, Gen Sani Abacha, to be returned to the Federal Account.
Malami, through his spokesperson, Dr Umar Gwandu, was reacting to the suggestion recently made by Falana in Akure, Ondo State that the recovered loot ought to be paid the Federation Account and shared between the Federal Government and the federating units.
The minister’s statement was titled, ‘Looted funds: Don’t confuse public with myopic views – Malami replies Falana’.
He said Falana made “erroneous assertion” on the process of disbursement and use of recovered stolen funds based on the provisions of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act and Section 153 (1) (n) of the Nigerian Constitution.
This, he said, “depicts a rash analysis devoid of clear legal foundations.”
The minister said the RMAFC Act “has nothing specific on funds recovered from indicted public officers or assets recovered internationally.”
He added, “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 Nations Convention against Corruption and Implementation of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) Principles on the Repatriation of Stolen Assets.”
But Falana insisted on Tuesday that the recovered loot ought to be paid into the Federation Account.
He said, “It is on record that the report of the investigation set up by the Federal Government under the Abdulsalami Abubakar junta confirmed that the estimated $5bn Abacha loot was part of the revenue of the federation stolen from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“Therefore, the recovered loot has to be returned to the Federation Account.
“Any agreement between the Federal Government and foreign countries on the recovered loot has to be read subject to sections 12 and 162 of the Constitution.”