By Emma Amaize, Asaba
AFRICAN Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, asset recovery and management watchdog, has found fault with the declaration of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, that Federal Government was entitled to the £4.2 million recovered from a former governor of Delta State by British Government.
Executive Director of ANEEJ and Head of Transparency and Accountability in Management of Returned Assets, (MANTRA) project, Rev David Ugolor, told reporters: “I am shocked to hear that Federal Government wants to use the fund to finance Federal infrastructural projects viz the Second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano Road and the Lagos-Ibadan road as announced by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) at the MoU Annex signing ceremony in Abuja.”
“‘First, we want to point out clearly that the MoU is in clear contradiction of Section B, Sub-section 6 of the Asset Tracing, Recovery, and Management Regulations, Gazette of the Federal Government of Nigeria (2019) which states: ‘Where the funds belong to other tiers of government, the Honourable Minister responsible with the office of the Minister of Finance shall within 45 days of being informed of funds in the Central Bank of Nigeria cause the proceeds to be transferred to the relevant tier of government.”
“Secondly, we are alarmed at the annexe of an MoU signed between our Federal Government and the UK government on returned £4.2million former Delta State Governor’s assets. Their action is in obvious breach of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) principles as well as the Federal Government Gazette on Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management (2019).
“I call on both governments to take a second look at the annexe of the MoU and deliver justice to the poor people of Delta state who should receive such returned asset and not the Federal Government as stated in the executed MoU,” Ugolor demanded.
The anti-graft campaigner noted that there was already precedence in the Plateau state of Nigeria, where looted assets of former Governor Joshua Dariye was returned to Plateau state for the victims of corruption in that state.
“Why should the returned Ibori assets be confiscated by the Federal Government for the federal government?” he queried.
On the emerging controversy over the actual worth of assets seized from Ibori, he said: “Whereas the British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing disclosed at the MoU Annex signing ceremony that £ 4.2 million was returned, we demand to know the exact amount seized from Ibori and his associates in the UK and our government in the spirit of transparency and accountability should disclose to the public how much it received from the UK government.”
Ugolor urged Malami to intervene and ensure the immediate reversal of the MoU to ensure that justice is served to the real victims of corruption—in this case, the people of Delta State.
“With all due respect to my friend and Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), this annexe to the 2016 MoU on returned assets should be urgently reviewed, as I am sure he understands our position on this matter,” Ugolor added.