Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has replied comments by Femi Falana, SAN, on the process of disbursement and use of recovered stolen funds based on the provisions of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
He said RMAFC had nothing specific on funds recovered from indicted public officers or assets recovered internationally and merely mentions accruals and disbursement of revenue from the Federation Account.
A statement on Tuesday by Malami’s spokesman, Umar Gwandu, said the questions of recovery of stolen funds from indicted public officers and illicit assets recovered internally were not contemplated by the spirit of the law internationally and were appropriately dealt with by other relevant laws.
The minister said it was misleading to give the impression that recoveries and usage of stolen funds stashed abroad were provided for by the RMAFC Act when recoveries are product of multiple jurisdictional legislations, thereby bringing recoveries into the purview of conflict of laws.
He said, “One cannot situate rights and entitlements on looted funds and recovered assets with myopic and narrow understating of concepts of the application of local legislation,” he noted.
“For the avoidance of doubt and the purpose of setting the record straight, the application of the looted funds can only factor within the context of mutual understanding and negotiations of international and multifaceted jurisdictional and territorial legislative issues.
“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.
“The African Union and the ECOWAS Protocols on recovery of illicit funds are equally relevant when it comes to the role of the Nigeria in relation to its other partners. As a member of the committee of nations and a respectable international partner, Nigeria must always strive to fulfill its international commitments in the repatriation and use of stolen funds and assets.
“By way of example, the Federal Government of Nigeria has entered into numerous agreements such as the one with the United States and the Island of Jersey in 2020, and including with other countries around the world. Where the agreements assume an international character, the specifics of the agreement often dictate the trajectory of recovery, sharing, transfer and implementation.”
Malami added that the disbursement formula mentioned by Falana was applicable in relation to monies belonging to the Federal Government that are locally generated.
The AGF said this should not to be confused with stolen funds and assets domiciled in foreign jurisdictions whose recovery and subsequent repatriation are based on international legal arrangements between Nigeria and foreign custodians of the funds.
Malami advised Falana to make statements that would enlighten the general public, rather that render alleged utterances that were misleading and calculated at striking discord and confusion in the public domain.