The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has warned Human Right Activist, Femi Falana, against making utterances that are misleading and calculated at striking discord and confusion in the public domain.
This was following comments made by the lawyer, who questioned that the process of disbursement and use of recovered stolen funds based on the provisions of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC),
A statement issued by Malami’s spokesman, Umar Gwandu, said Falana’s disbursement formula was applicable in relation to money belonging to the Federal Government that is locally generated.
He stressed that this should not 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.
He warned that giving the impression that the recoveries and usage of stolen funds stashed abroad are provided for by the RMAFC Act is misleading.
According to him, RMAFC is only obligated to mention accruals and disbursement of revenue from the Federation Account, adding that funds and illicit assets recovered from indicted public officers are not contemplated on the basis of international laws but appropriately dealt with by other relevant laws.
This, he noted is subject to jurisdictional legislation, hence resulting in a conflict of laws.
Meanwhile, on repatriated funds, Malami reiterated that they are based on cooperation and mutual assistance agreements, especially the United Nation Convention against Corruption and Implementation of the Global Forum on Asset.
He stressed 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.”
Also, “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,” he added.
The Minister of Justice added that bodies such as the African Union and ECOWAS had protocols surrounding the recovery of illicit funds and Nigeria’s role in relations to that of others is relevant.
“As a member of the committee of nations and a respectable international partner, Nigeria must always strive to fulfil its international commitments in the repatriation and use of stolen funds and assets,” he concluded.