Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
The Federal Government says over £100m (N527bn), allegedly stolen by a former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, and his associates is still being expected.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said this on Channels Television’s Politics Today’ programme on Tuesday.
Malami, who is also the Minister of Justice, said apart from the Ibori loot, $100m traced to the late Head of State, Gen Sani Abacha, was also being expected.
He said, “As it is we have succeeded in recovering £4.2m from the UK. We are still pursuing other assets even as it relates to the Ibori assets.
“The quantum of the amount involved was within the region of over £100m (N2.2bn) and it is out of it that we have succeeded in recovering a fraction of £4.2m and we are still pursuing an additional sum within the region of £100m (N527bn) and that will be a function of conviction and subsequent recovery process.”
The AGF said the money would not be handed over to the Delta State Government because the crime that led to the diversion of the funds was a federal one.
He further argued that one of the conditions for the UK repatriating the Ibori loot was that the money must be tied to certain federal projects which include the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Abuja-Kano rail and the Second Niger Bridge and a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed between both parties.
However, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), described Malami’s position as faulty.
Falana said funds stolen from the Bayelsa State Government years ago were returned to the state government.
He said this was what also happened in the case of Joshua Dariye, a former Governor of Plateau State who was convicted for diverting state funds.
The senior advocate said giving the Ibori loot to the Federal Government was at variance with Section 162 of the constitution.
Falana said, “The £4.2m does not belong to the Federal Government. The money confiscated from Governor Joshua Dariye in the United Kingdom was recovered by the Federal Government, repatriated to Nigeria and returned to the Plateau State Government.
“The money confiscated from Governor DSP Alamieyesigha in the UK was recovered by the Federal Government, repatriated to Nigeria and remitted to the Account of Bayelsa State Government.
“Since what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander the sum of £4.2m confiscated from Governor James Ibori in the United Kingdom and recovered by the Federal Government has to be remitted to the Account of the Delta State Government.”
He said the memorandum of understanding signed by the representatives of the British Government and the Federal Government cannot supersede the constitution which has prohibited any form of discrimination in the country.