A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has accused the Federal Government of earlier frustrating the trial of former Governor, James Ibori, in the United Kingdom.
In a communique titled ‘How FG Frustrated Ibori’s Trial in the UK’ and released on Sunday, Falana alleged that the Nigerian Government through the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa, challenged the investigation of Ibori in the United Kingdom in 2009.
He said a government that challenged the former governor’s investigation should not readily claim ownership of the funds recovered.
The senior legal practitioner noted that Aondoakaa had said the UK’s decision to probe Ibori was an insult to Nigeria’s sovereignty.
The SAN further wondered why President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to use General Sani Abacha’s loot to implement projects even though he (Buhari) has consistently said that the former Head of State never stole from the nation’s coffers.
He said: “It is on record that the Federal Government openly opposed the trial of Chief Ibori in the United Kingdom. In fact, in utter breach of the provisions of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between Nigeria and the United Kingdom the then Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Michael Aondoakaa SAN rejected the request to make relevant documents available for the trial in the United Kingdom on the ground of sovereignty.
“In particular, Chief Aondoakaar refused to entertain the request of the UK Metropolitan Police and made under bilateral mutual assistance to Nigeria on the ground that the request was not made by the Home Office.”
Falana argued that the Delta State Government could not be denied the billions recovered from its former Governor, James Ibori, just because the state government once said Ibori never stole.
He said: “In opposing my position on the legitimate right of the people of Delta State to the sun of £4.2 million confiscated and recovered from the Ibori loot some colleagues have argued that the fund should be forfeited to the Federal Government on the ground that the Uduagban regime had said that no money was missing from the coffers of the State Government.
“No doubt, the former Delta State Government had denied any loss of money during the proceedings of the Federal High Court for the confiscation of the $15 million bribe given to Mr. Nuhu Ribadu by Chief James Ibori. Hence, the presiding judge, Kolawole J. (now JCA) directed that the fund be paid into the Federation Account for distribution in line with the provisions of the Revenue Allocation Act.
“But the Delta State Government never said that the over £100 million confiscated from Chief Ibori in the London trial did not belong to the people of Delta State.”
“No doubt, the former Delta State Government was irresponsible to have denied that Chief Ibori looted the treasury of the State at the material time. But such denial cannot be a justification for the confiscation of the Ibori loot of over £100 million that is expected to be repatriated to Nigeria by the British Government.
“After all, before his assumption of office as President in May 2015, General Mohammadu Buhari had repeatedly maintained that the late General Sani Abacha did not steal a dime from the account of the Federal Government.
“But the Federal Government under the President’s watch has continued to recover the remaining Abacha loot and no one has suggested that such recovered loot be paid to the account of the United Nations or African Union on moral grounds.”
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