Court Nullifies AGF’s Sale, Disposal Of Recovered Assets

A photo combination of a court gavel and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
A photo combination of a court gavel and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has nullified all sales and disposals of assets made by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019.

The court also nullified the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 for being “an invalid statutory instrument.”

It held that the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 were “ultra vires the office and powers” of the AGF.

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa made the order in a suit filed by the plaintiff, the Incorporated Trustees of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre, against the AGF.

READ ALSO: Buhari Returns To Abuja After COP-15 Summit In Abidjan

On November 9, 2020, the AGF inaugurated the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the disposal of assets forfeited to the Federal Government.

This, according to the minister, was in accordance with the president’s directive in October 2018 following recommendations of the Presidential Audit Committee on Recovery and Management of Stolen Assets and a need for efficient management of the assets.

But HEDA, through its counsel, Omotayo Olatubosun, challenged the AGF’s power to set up the committee.

It argued that the Regulations conflicted with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act, Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administrative Act, 2015, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act, 2004 and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act (ICPC), 2000, among others, on the matter of disposal of final forfeited assets.

The court judgment

The plaintiff sought nine reliefs, including the nullification of all disposals of assets by the AGF’s Committee.

In its judgment, the court dismissed the AGF’s preliminary objection argued by its counsel, Tolu Mokunolu, and granted all of HEDA’s reliefs as prayed on the motion paper.

Justice Lewis-Allagoa held: “I am entirely in agreement with the submission of counsels to the plaintiff that the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 are contrary to the statutory provisions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC Act, Trafficking in Persons Cohabitation Enforcement and Administration Act, NDLEA Act and Immigration Act.

“A careful perusal of the above statutory provisions will show the provisions for the Attorney-General of the Federation to make regulations for the agencies for disposal of assets under the various enactments listed above.

“The above statutory enactments are therefore the enabling source of the Attorney-General of the Federation to the regulations.

“Consequently, the administrative powers to be exercised by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation must flow from the enabling statutes.

“It is pertinent to state that the powers of the Attorney-General of the Federation do not override the provisions of the enabling statutes stabilising the powers of the law enforcement agencies and anti-corruption agencies and consequently the powers referred to in the commencement clause of the regulations merely are to be exercised in accordance with the Acts not to usurp the mandatory powers vested in the law enforcement agencies and the anti-corruption agencies.

“I am therefore in agreement with counsel for the plaintiff that the executive orders or any other forms of definition can be issued pursuant to session 315 of the Constitution; however, they are limited to enactments predating the 1999 Constitution.

“The Acts under Consideration in this instant suit were enacted after the 1999 Constitution and do not fall within the ambit of session 315 of the 1999 Constitution.

“In all and for the reasons hereinbefore given in this judgement, the questions put for determination in the originating summons are answered in favour of the plaintiff and all the reliefs sought are granted as prayed. This is the judgment of the court read in the open court.”

The Plaintiff’s reliefs granted by the judge include a declaration that by the ICPC Act, the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 “is an invalid statutory instrument the former having conferred no power arrogated by the Defendant to himself in the latter Regulations;

“An Order nullifying the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 as an invalid statutory instrument same being in excess of the provisions of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act, 2000;

“An Order nullifying all sales and disposals of assets made by the Defendant pursuant to the said Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 same being ultra vires the office and powers of the Defendant.”

All Recovered Assets Will Be Sold, Says Buhari

All Recovered Assets Will Be Sold, Says Buhari
File photo

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that all mismanaged and misappropriated national assets recovered will be sold off.

In a statement issued on Monday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Mr Garba Shehu, he also vowed to ensure that the proceeds of the sales are paid to the treasury for the benefit of the country.

President Buhari, who gave the assurance in Katsina State when he received representatives of social groups in Daura Emirate, said his administration would continue to pursue a robust, effective and legitimate anti-corruption campaign that safeguards the treasury and commonwealth of all Nigerians.

He also vowed not allow a repeat of what happened in the 1980s, when buildings and other ill-gotten property seized by his military administration were returned to corrupt officials, following his ouster as Head of State.

The President told the groups that the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government would consolidate on the gains and monumental achievements in the development of infrastructure across the country.

“For most ordinary Nigerians, if you give them good roads, railway and stable electric power, they will be happy to carry on with their lives. We are doing so much for our country and we will continue to do more out of the fear of God,” he said.

On agriculture development, President Buhari promised that the Federal Government would sustain the provision of funds, improved seedlings and fertiliser to farmers, to ensure that the sector remains the largest employer of labour to the people.

He also maintained that the records of his administration’s achievements in the areas of security, the war against corruption, and the revival of the economy have remained very impressive.

The President was delighted that more young people are venturing into agribusiness while security, especially in the North-east, has remarkably changed from what he met in 2015.

On his part, the spokesman of the delegations, Mr Mohammed Saleh, commended President Buhari for implementing policies and programmes that have created gainful employment to thousands of young Nigerians under the Social Investment Programme.

Saleh said improved electricity supply in their communities and growing foreign reserves are clear indications of good management of the economy under the present administration.

The delegations also congratulated the President on his appointment as the continental Champion against corruption by the African Union, noting that it underscored the global appreciation of the good work he is doing in fighting corruption.

They further commiserated with him on the recent loss of his close family members.

The groups represented at the meeting were the Daura Emirate Coalition of Associations; the Amalgamation of Daura Emirate Political Associations; the Buhari Group; the Daura Emirate Development Forum; Women in Politics in Daura Emirate, and the Daura Emirate Consultative Forum.

Nigerian Govt. Has Inherited A Heavy Baggage – Wole Soyinka

SoyinkaNobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka believes the Nigerian government inherited a burden that may take a while to lessen but it must sustain efforts at improving the economy.

This comes as Nigeria assesses the Buhari administration after one year in office.

He was speaking to Channels Television in Johannesburg where he is expected to speak at a public lecture entitled Politics, Culture and the New Africa.

“This administration has inherited a heavy baggage. While I am critical in some aspects of the priority, I think that to clear up the mess left by previous administrations is going to take quite a while especially in the sector of economy.

“So I don’t use words like optimism or pessimism, I’m just pragmatic. I look at what there is on the ground and of course wherever I can intervene, I do both privately and publicly,” he said.

Kole OmotosoRenowned Nigerian author and playwright, Professor Kole Omotoso, also said that the current administration has ticked a number of little things but there must be more effort to alleviate the sufferings of the people.

“We are going in the right direction but in the process, we need to do so many things. We need to look at not just the suffering of the people but the way people seem to indulge in bearing suffering.

“It is as if even if you try to solve the problem for them they will prefer to be suffering and smiling,” Prof. Omotoso said.

Recovered Assets Will Be Published Latest Thursday – Garba Shehu

Recovered Assets, Garba ShehuThe Presidency says President Muhammadu Buhari has not rescinded his decision to publish the amounts that have been recovered by his administration from those who had allegedly looted the nation’s treasury.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, May 30, a day after Nigeria marked its Democracy Day.

The conversation, ‘Assessing Buhari’s One Year In Office’ saw the President’s spokesman addressing several controversies generated by the President’s national broadcast on Sunday.

The President’s Democracy Day speech had been widely criticised because it failed to address the promise to publish the amounts of funds that have been recovered and from whom they were recovered since the anti-corruption campaign started.

The President had promised that the information would made public when his administration clocks one year but Mr Shehu said that “the President did not at any time say he was going to name names”.

Mr Shehu expressed surprise that the issue had generated so much negative reactions from Nigerians, explaining that the President did not cancel his decision to announce the seizures that have been made.

“What he (President) said was that the Minister of Information will be making a pronouncement on this and this is going to happen when work resumes from Tuesday.

“This is likely going to be out by Wednesday, or latest by Thursday. So nothing has changed from the position that there will be disclosure.

“The President has given authorisation that these assets that have been taken back from those who took from the treasury be put out there. So my view is that nothing is lost.”

Mr Shehu said that the directive by President is that “money on account” in the CBN should be disclosed. He explained that there were also many accounts that have been frozen by investigating agencies.

He named the Police, EFCC, ICPC and the Office of the National Security Adviser among those handling the matter, so the Presidency expects “that there will be a snapshot of where they stand with the ongoing investigation and the recoveries when that disclosure is made”.

One Year Lost

Mr Shehu disagreed with the view by some Nigerians that the Buhari administration had lost one year, as it has failed to achieve some of what it promised to achieve in the first year.

“The President had focus, he knew what to do from the beginning. He identified the problems of this country, putting the security of the country on top of the heap.

“He said repeatedly, ‘this country must be secured, there must be peace in this country for you to develop and manage it very well’.

“And I think that he has done for this country what others had failed to do for four to five years in which they had allowed problems like Boko Haram to fester.

“A street protest in Maiduguri had grown into a city-wide phenomenon, problem for neighbouring states and all of the Lake Chad, in fact a global phenomenon with the linkage to ISIS.

“President Buhari within one year is about to bring Boko Haram to a closure. This is massive,” he said.