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Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Malami: 2.5% of recovered loot should be spent on logistics, private lawyers

Malami: 2.5% of recovered loot should be spent on logistics, private lawyers

Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), says 2.5 percent of recovered loot should be spent on logistics, operational costs and payments to consultants and private lawyers.

Malami said this on Wednesday when he appeared before the senate judiciary committee to defend the 2020 budget of the ministry of justice.

The minister told the lawmakers that significant progress had been made in the recovery of looted funds stashed abroad.

“We are progressively making vital recoveries of our looted funds stashed abroad. However, let me affirm that the legal procedural requirements for these recoveries are all-together tasking and cumbersome,” he said.

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“Most times, we have to engage the services of well-grounded lawyers and consultants to effect recovery. To smoothen our operations in this regard, it was deemed expedient to establish Asset Recovery Unit in my office and so far, the effort are quite sultry.

“I would like to reiterate my request to the effect that about 2.5 percent of the recovered looted money to be earmarked to the Asset Recovery unit to service logistics, operational cost, payment to private lawyers and consultants.”

The minister made the comment four months after the federal government paid $15 million to Oladipo Okpeseyi and Temitope Adebayo, two Nigerian lawyers, for the recovery of $321 million Abacha Loot from Switzerland.

The payment had generated controversy. Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer who had been on the recovery job since 2000, had told TheCable in a series of interviews that hiring of the new lawyers was needless as he had already completed the job.

But the federal government secretly paid the money to the lawyers despite public outcry.

The AGF also told senators, on Wednesday, to approve N30 billion annually for the payment of judgement debts.

“Ministry of justice was mandated to take inventory and explore avenues for the payment of judgement debt. This has arisen because it was only in 2017 that the sum of N10 billion was disbursed for the payment of judgment debt as an operative,” Malami said.

“As it stands, the sum of over 150 billion remains unpaid prompting beneficiaries of this sum to keep mounting pressures on the ministry.

“I hereby request that you intervene on these long standing issue by appropriating the sum of N30 billion annually to mitigate this challenge to forestall approved interest and unwarranted litigations arising from our failure to effect payment.”

The minister added that the department of public prosecution in the justice ministry has been working round the clock to tackle kidnapping, terrorism and other crimes.

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