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Re-looted assets: Malami inaugurates committee to sell recovered items

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ABUBAKAR Malami, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) has inaugurated a committee to sell looted assets recovered by anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria.

Malami, during the inauguration on Monday in Abuja, disclosed that the committee would be chaired by Dayo Apata, the Solicitor General of the Federation.

He added that the committee is tagged ‘the inter-ministerial committee on the disposal of Federal Government of Nigeria’s forfeited assets.

According to the AGF, the committee is drawn from relevant agencies that deal with the recovery and disposal of Federal Government of Nigeria’s assets.

“Your mandate is to ensure the expedient disposal of all FGN Forfeited Assets and generate revenue for the Federal Government of Nigeria. I wish to implore the inter-ministerial committee to work as a formidable team with the relevant agencies in accordance with extant laws and regulations. It is also my hope that the proceeds from this exercise will be a source of additional revenue for the country,” Malami stated.

Apata assured that the committee would be guided by principles of transparency and accountability in selling the assets.

He called on all assets recovery agencies of the Federal Government to urgently send records of recovered assets to the committee’s secretariat, which is the Assets Tracing Recovery and Management Unit in the office of the AGF.

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Members of the committee are said to be drawn from the office of the Chief of Staff to the President; Federal Ministry of Justice; Federal Ministry of Finance; Federal Ministry of Works and Housing; Auditor-General of the Federation; the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices (and other related offences) Commission.

Others include Nigerian Army; Nigerian Navy; Nigeria Police; Nigeria Security Civil Defence Corps; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency; Department of State Security; National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; Department of Petroleum Resources; National Oil Spillage, Detection and Response Agency; and the Bureau of Public Procurement.

Representatives of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs); a representative of the youth organisations, a representative of the media; and “any other Nigerian with exceptional expertise that could add value to the committee as deems fit by the Attorney General of the Federation were said to have been included.

Dog guarding bones?

Various controversies have surrounded looted and recovered asset by anti-corruption agencies of the federal government.

Most recently is the suspension of the former acting EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu who was alleged to have ‘re-looted’ assets recovered by the commission under his watch.

According to 2018 reports, Magu failed to give a proper account of missing 332 out of the 836 recovered real estate properties.

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According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), a report by the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) said the unaccounted property was worth billions of naira.

The PCARA report read that “For instance, EFCC stated 836 as the number of Recovered Real Estate in the Original Returns it made to the President on 07/04/2017.

“However, in its 1st Returns to PCARA on 13/12/2017, EFCC short-changed the system and gave the figure of 339 thereby failing to account for 497 properties.

“It is interesting to note that when the Acting Chairman was further queried on this lapse, he made further contradictory 2nd return of 504 on 09/03/2018 thereby bridging the gap to 332 properties.’’

In his defence, Magu through his lawyer accused Malami of selling vessels belonging to the Nigerian government, a function beyond the purview of his office.

Tosin Ojaomo, Magu’s counsel said Malami authorised contractors to sell vessels seized by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to EFCC without approval.

Magu called on the ICPC to investigate Malami over the sale of the vessels.

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It should be noted that the newly inaugurated committee chairman, Apata works under the AGF.

Also in March, Ekoi Obona-Obla, the former chairman of the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) was arrested by the ICPC over allegations of misconduct.

In October 2019, ICPC said it received petitions from Nigerians against Obona- Obla, alleging that he was living above his income and collecting gratification from suspects under the investigation of the SPIP.

Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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