The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Tuesday, rejected a request to return stolen funds especially the ones linked to the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, to the federation account.
Mr Malami was reacting to the call made by a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, that the recovered money ought to be paid into the federation account and shared among the federating units.
The AGF’s posiiton was contained in a statement by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu and titled, ‘Looted funds: Don’t confuse public with myopic views – Malami replies Falana’.
The justice minister said Mr Falana made “erroneous assertion” on the process of disbursement and use of recovered stolen funds based on the provisions of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act and Section 153 (1) (n) of the Nigerian Constitution.
Mr Malami added that it, “depicts a rash analysis devoid of clear legal foundations.”
“Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act has nothing specific on funds recovered from indicted public officers or assets recovered internationally,” the AGF said. “It merely mentions accruals and disbursement of revenue from the Federation Account. So, questions of recovery of stolen funds from indicted public officers and illicit assets recovered internally are not contemplated by the spirit of the law internationally and are appropriately dealt with by other relevant laws. One cannot impute into legislation what is not specifically and expressly mentioned.”
“It is, therefore, misleading to give the impression that recoveries and usage of stolen funds stashed abroad are provided for by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act. More so when recoveries are product of by multiple jurisdictional legislations, thereby bringing recoveries into the purview of conflict of laws,” he added.
The AGF said Section 80 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) “contemplates exceptions to funds not payable into the federation account.”
He added that, “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.”
In recent years, the federal government had recovered massive amounts of looted funds, a large portion stolen by Mr Abacha and stached abroad while in power.