The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has said that his ministry has done well in the area of the recovery of Nigerian assets in foreign jurisdiction after several years of painstaking negotiations and diplomatic shuttles.
He made this known at the Ministry’s 2018 Budget Defence presentation and performance appraisal of 2017 appropriation before the House of Representatives Committee on Justice on Tuesday January 30, 2018 in Abuja.
Represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation /Permanent Secretary, Dayo Apata, Esq., the Minister said the success was achieved through the establishment of Assets Recovery Unit within the Ministry which proactively engaged with domestic and international partners in the business of asset recovery for the Federal government.
Highlighting on the achievements of the ministry in the past year 2017, the Minister said, “I signed two Agreements on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America respectively for the return of previously looted funds. The first Agreement with Switzerland will involve the return of $321 million traced to Nigeria’s former Head of State, Late General Sani Abacha….”
“The second agreement, with the United States f America, sets out the road map for the eventual return of sums in excess of $300 million currently in the custody of the US Government following Forfeiture Orders by American courts and which relate to monies stashed away in the United Kingdom ($1.6m and £21.7m), France ($145m) and Jersey ($299m) respectively, by certain interests including a former Governor of Nigeria”.
He expressed satisfaction that the agreements had been concluded and would help to reinforce the principle that the present administration would chase and recover every single penny rightfully belonging to the Nigeria no matter how long it takes.
He also mentioned the success recorded in ensuring the imminent return of the sum of $85 million to Nigeria from the United Kingdom from in the Malabu transaction. He expressed satisfaction for the support Nigeria received from the international communities in these achievements. ‘’We have therefore continued to receive support and assistance from both multi-lateral institutions and individual Governments including those of the United Kingdom, Switzerland, United States of America and the United Arab Emirates, among others. We have equally received support from non-Government entities in achieving our objectives’’, he commended.
He disclosed that the Nigeria National Policy on Justice had been adopted by various Stakeholders, explaining that the Policy which would be reviewed every five years, had confirmed the determination to lay a solid structure for the coordination and division of responsibilities among all the institutions and offices involved with the delivery of Justice in Nigeria.
Speaking further, “the Whistle Blowers policy, which my Ministry is spearheading in collaboration with other Ministries and agencies as a component of the anti-corruption war has proven to be huge success resulting in several recoveries by the Government, including the famous seizure of $43m plus cash discovered in a flat in Lagos on 12th April, 2017”.
He stated that the Departments of Civil Litigation and Public Prosecution had tenaciously defended the interests of the Federal Government and its agencies before the Law Courts and ensured that Government maintained an active and focused presence in Court in order to avoid embarrassment or avoidable Judgement debts. The implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, is making steady progress.
He revealed that the ministry concluded 83 cases between June 2016 and July 2017,’’ it is noteworthy that more than 90% of the matters dealt with within that timeframe were decided in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria”.
As a result, the ministry accrued cumulative savings to the Federal government through the Department of Civil Litigation, a total sum of N119, 217,179,105.00 (One Hundred and Nineteen Billion, Two Hundred and Seven Million, One Hundred and Seventy-Nine Thousand, One Hundred and Five Naira) and $14,696,532.00 (Fourteen Million, Six Hundred and Ninety-Six Thousand, Five Hundred and Thirty-Two US Dollars).
The Minister in his Budget submission to the House, said the total allocation to the Ministry in 2018 estimates is N6,570,550,715.00 (Six billion Five hundred and seventy million, five hundred and fifty thousand, seven hundred and fifteen naira only).
He noted that the expectation of the Ministry is to be favourably treated in terms of appropriation to match its responsibilities while assuring the Committee of the requisite human capacity to address all responsibilities if adequate resources are provided for services. He added that his Ministry is blessed with a crop of dedicated staff who has continued to render service to our fatherland with passion and optimism despite the challenges of resources inadequacy’’.’
Earlier In his opening remarks, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Justice, Hon. Razak Atunwa, said the committee is committed to the ideals of the vision and mission of the Ministry and would do everything that can guaranty efficient service delivery in the Sector.
The Committee unanimously advised that HAGF should make a Submission to the Federal Executive Council for the release of funds from recovered loot to upset the outstanding Judgment debt.
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