International collaboration will enhance asset recovery – Attorney General

In The Middle, The Attorney General Of The Federation And Minister Of Justice, Abubakar Malami San, On His Immediate Left, Ekpo Nta - Chairman,( ICPC), Oliver Stolpe, Unodc/Star Initiative,Avienna, Austria, To His Right, Antonio Tricarico, Director, Re-Common Italy And Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye ,Executive Secretary, Presidential Committee Against Corruption. (PACAC) At The Conference On Promoting International Cooperation In Combating Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) And Enhancing Asset Recovery To Foster Sustainable Development At The State Banquet Hall, On Tuesday, 6th June, 2017

ABUJA (Justice Ministry’ Report)- The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said that it is clear that there is a strong denunciation of corruption by international community and what remains to be done is the international collaboration that will enhance asset recovery and return of stolen asset to the victim state.

He disclosed this at the conference on promoting international cooperation in combating Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) and Enhancing Asset Recovery to Foster Sustainable Development at the State Banquet Hall, on Tuesday June 6, 2017.

Malami who chaired the Day 2, Session Four of the conference gave highlights on the concerted efforts of Nigerian government in the fight against corruption and the cooperation of the International community in the recovery of looted assets and assets returns.

The international community demonstrated by United Nations Commission Against Corruption (UNCAC) is a strong denunciation of corruption and by extension Illicit Financial Flows (IFF). However, the zeal accompanying asset recovery has not always been matched by the same ambition and urgency for asset return due to a myriad of factors in both requesting and requested states. Tension has been growing between developed countries that received stolen asset and requesting states who are asking for their stolen assets to be returned unconditionally.

Panellists at the session examined the mechanism by which operation could be enhanced and measures to facilitate and ease recovery of stolen assets back to the origin. They were; Oliver Stolpe, UNODC/Star Initiative, Vienna, Austria, Ekpo Nta – Chairman,( ICPC), Antonio Tricarico, Director, Re-Common Italy and Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye ,Executive Secretary, Presidential Committee Against Corruption. (PACAC)

One of the panellists, Mr Oliver Stolpe who recounted many Conferences members of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had attended in Nigeria, said that the conference is unique and different from all because it centred on assets recovery. He commended Nigerian government on its far reaching efforts towards recovery of stolen assets, adding that Nigeria is on the lead and as an example for other countries championing the course for the illicit asset recovery.

He said though progress towards assets recovery is slow, Nigerian government has not shown any form of frustration but had continued to push on in the course for assets recovery. He stated that Nigeria has an effective Legal frame work and would need the global agenda forward.

While speaking on the resolution of assets returns, Mr Ekpo Nta, said the origin of illicit stolen asset when compared to things like narcotics, embezzlement of public funds that goes out of the country, must be treated right from the origin. Moving on, he said that assets recovering could not only be money but of works of arts that had been taken away out of the country.

He therefore called for the need not only to return the stolen assets, but also importantly to ensure the management of future assets. “One of the areas that should be looked at is the return of funds from outside the country and to ensure that the funds would be adequately utilized in Nigeria”, he added.

Mr Rotimi Oladele in his contribution, noted that businesses registered as unlimited are used by the owners as conduit pipes to divert stolen monies to banks. He therefore suggested that Cooperate Affairs Commission (CAC) should ensure that the unlimited list businesses by particular corporate body should become more limited. He said, “Rather than somebody who is in the business of oil and gas, will be able to divert stolen money to banks and importation of papers for printing business because it covers more than it’s prospective”

He also called for increased Media participation in the exposure and the protection of whistle blowers which must come in to clear the air, so that people with good information will be confident enough to bring them to the public.