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It is now impossible to re-loot recovered looted funds — FG

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It is now impossible to re-loot recovered looted funds — FGThe Federal Government says it is now impossible for recovered looted funds to be re-looted, as mechanisms have been put in place to prevent it.

Mrs Ladidi Mohammed, the Director, Asset Recovery and Management Unit, Ministry of Justice, gave the assurance on Wednesday in Abuja, at a citizens’ dialogue on Post-Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR)
roadmap and asset recovery in Nigeria.

The dialogue was organised by the Africa Network for Environment and
Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).

Mohammed said that re-looting of recovered looted funds was a thing of
concern for the nation, adding that doing that would be very difficult
under the present administration.

“As I speak, it is very difficult for anyone to re-loot any returned
funds because as far as the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF),
and the entire government is concerned, there is no way that is going
to happen.

“I can tell you that there are different organisations in charge of
recoveries, so in the whole system, there is no way that those assets,
whether local or international will be re-looted.’’

She also said that the recovered monies would have to be returned to
the financial system for appropriation.
Mohammed, however, assured that the expected recovered loots coming in
from overseas accounts would be used for projects that would impact
the lives of citizens, not as individuals, but as communities and as a
nation.

“What I mean by that is that recovered monies are not like generated
revenue that go into the Federation Account or the Consolidated
Revenue Fund.

“The office of the AGF initiated a depository account for both local
and international recoveries and those recovered funds go straight to
the account which is domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“It is a depository account that has no signatory and cannot be
touched until it is appropriated, it is a constitutional and
international issue.

“The AGF has put up every mechanism to prevent re-looting, so I assure
you that there is no fear that these recovered funds will be looted
and the monies will be used for the good of Nigerians.’’

Mohammed said negotiation had begun for the repatriation of the
remaining Abacha loot, adding that provision had been made for Civil
Society Organisations (CSOs) involvement, particularly with management
of the funds.

“We also know that we have some cases all over the world for recovery
and this is being coordinated by the AGF and I am pleased to say that
some CSOs are monitoring these cases and we are very proud of you.
“We do not see CSOs as adversaries but as a formidable ally and the
AGF is committed to collaborating with you,’’ she added.

The Executive Director, ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor, said there was an
obvious need for the establishment of institutions and mechanisms both
at the international and national levels to enhance transparency and
accountability in recovery of looted funds.

He said this would ensure that looted funds were utilized in a
judicious manner that benefits the ultimate victims of corruption.

According to him, the GFAR principles are aimed at providing a
framework through which CSOs and citizens can meaningfully engage with
relevant stakeholders and advocate for the improvement of the asset
recovery regime in Nigeria.

He, however, advocated that the nation should implement the
commitments reached at the forum as they would have a huge impact in
enhancing the asset recovery and utilisation regime.

Other participants said since the consequences of stolen assets
impacts on all citizens, they should also participate in the recovery
process and determine what happens to the recovered loot.

It may be recalled that GFAR which held in Washington D.C. in Dec.
2017, with more than 300 participants from 26 jurisdictions
recommitted to global asset recovery agenda.

At the forum, Nigeria made commendable commitments on beneficial
ownership, tax transparency, asset recovery, transparency management
of recovered funds and payments to victims of corruption.

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