The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) in collaboration with Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) held a one-day consultative meeting with the theme “Building an enduring framework for Asset Recovery in Nigeria” in Abuja.
Mosunmola Olanrewaju represented Media Rights Agenda at the event. The Hon. Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, and a representative of the US Ambassador and representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) participated at the meeting.
The event centered on creating agenda for the forthcoming Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) billed to hold in Washington, DC from December 4 to 6, 2017. The core objective of GFAR is to convene experts to provide an effective opportunity for countries to cooperate on asset recovery cases.
David Ugolor, the Executive Director of ANEEJ noted in his remark that the rising migration in Nigeria is connected to the looting of public funds, adding that every Naira that is stolen in Nigeria from the public coffers is denying access to good drinking water, primary health care, basic education, good roads and adequate housing. Nigeria’s looted assets is said to be stashed in secret destinations in offshore and other western jurisdiction to finance development.
Speaking on Nigerian government’s priority for GFAR, Mrs. Ladidi, the coordinator of recovery and repatriation of looted funds and assets said the Federal Ministry of Justice coordinates GFAR and brings all agencies involved in recovery on board, e. g Economies and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission (ICPC) and even the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) on policy issues. Even CSOs are engaged in all activities she said and encouraged CSOs to be involved in the forthcoming Conference in Washington.
A Director representing the EFCC Chairman at the meeting said the Commission is partnering with government and development partners via Memorandum of Understanding. He noted that the Commission is also involved in capacity building of Staff and even Judges through the National Judicial Institute (NJI).
The EFCC Director added that while the Commission awaits a comprehensive legal framework on Asset recovery, i.e the pending Proceeds of Crime bill, 2017 pending at the National Assembly, it takes advantage of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 to proceed for recovery of stolen assets. The Commission uses both the Conviction based and Non-conviction based techniques in the fight for recovery of stolen assets. He informed the meeting that the Asset Forfeiture unit of the commission has recently been upgraded to a Directorate.
The meeting at the end resolved that there is need for Government, CSOs and Development Partners and all other stakeholders to work together and ensure the success of the upcoming Washington event.