The governments of Nigeria and United Kingdom have set out the guidelines that will govern the procedure for the return of stolen assets in a prompt and timely manner from the United Kingdom.
The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said this today( 30th August, 2016) in his office during the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the governments of United Kingdom and Nigeria on the modalities for the return of stolen assets from the UK.
“Today both countries make history as we set out the guidelines that will govern the procedures for the return of assets in prompt and timely manner from the United kingdom”, Malami expressed.
Malami explained that this MOU reflect the strong desire and willingness of both countries to continue cooperation and mutual support in the return of all recovered assets. The objective of the MOU, according to him, depicts that the process of returning stolen assets was based on mutual understanding, confidence and trust. He added that both countries recognize that they have a mutual interest in ensuring that returned assets are not at risk of being misappropriated.
Furthermore, the fundamental purpose of asset return process was to enable those funds that had been grossly misappropriated be applied to either the same project or new ones as may be determined by the Nigerian government.
Abubakar Malami declared,”I want to use this opportunity to assure Nigerians that nobody will steal funds that is meant for the people of Nigeria”. He also asserted that, “all the procedure aimed towards effective and efficient asset recovery adopted under my office since I assumed office in November 2015 had been transparent and we are always willing to give account of all our activities to the Nigerian public”
The Minister also said, “The position of the law in Nigeria today is that all funds recovered must be paid directly into the consolidated revenue account”.
He lamented that this ideal situation was not upheld by the previous administration promising the International Community that all funds recovered must be well utilized. “I want to assure the International Community that all funds recovered within and outside Nigeria would be judiciously utilized for the project that will benefit the poorest segment of the Nigerian society as well as support reform in the justice sector”.
The leader of the UK delegation who doubles as Member of Parliament and Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Goodwill, earlier in his remarks said that,” this MOU provides the mechanism which monies can be returned”. And “our ability to recover and return stolen assets should send a clear message to all who seek to abhor such assets overseas that there is no safe haven in UK”.
Robert unequivocally stated, “my government is fully committed to the return of all funds looted from the Nigerian State and we are keen to do this as soon as the necessary legal process are allowed”.
He further asserted,” we are committed as is Nigeria to ensure that beneficial ownership of asset is made available to relevant authorities so they know whom the real owners are of assets held in UK”.
He also revealed that 40 jurisdictions including British Overseas’ territories and crown dependencies had announced that they will automatically share beneficial ownership information relating to Companies, Trusts, Foundations, Shell Companies and other relevant entities and legal arrangements.
30th August, 2016
Yushau A. Shuaib