The House of Representatives has accused the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami of receiving N2 billion illegally from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the prosecution of terror suspects.
When asked by the House ad hoc committee probing the status of the recovered loots, Malami didn’t deny receiving the said money from the CBN but disagreed with requesting specific payment from looted funds.
The interaction happened on Tuesday during a sitting by the House Adhoc committee probing the status of recovered loot in the country.
The lawmakers tackled the Minister for requesting such payments adding that it wasn’t part of budgetary funds approved for him.
The chairman of the committee, Adejoro Adeogun, said: “The honourable attorney general of the federation is requesting payment of approved solicitors’ fees. You see, you are asking for solicitors’ fees from recovered funds’ accounts. I don’t think it is proper; that is what we are talking about.
“The question I want to ask regards to the payment of N2 billion which you received for the prosecution of terrorism suspects; was it supposed to come from that [recovered funds] account or should it have been part of the budgetary spending? Is it that when you exhaust your budget, you ask these people to send you some money?”
But Malami in his response and defence, said he has no control over where such funds originate from as it is the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Finance to do such.
“Where the money comes from is a function of the federal ministry of finance and I am not making specific requests out of the recovered assets,” he said.
The lawmakers however countered Malami by presenting a letter from the central bank titled, ‘Request for approval to effect critical payments in respect of federal ministry of justice for the recovered (funds)’.
According to Adeogun, the letter shows “the attorney-general knows that this is coming from the recovered funds; which means that the attorney-general knows that he is making a request that is against the law.”
But Malami insisted that he knows nothing about the letter as it did not originate from his office.
“There is nothing indicating a previous correspondence from the office of attorney-general nor is there anything in the opening paragraph making reference to a letter from the office of attorney-general,” he said.
The House committee also called the attention of the AGF to discrepancies in the records of recovered assets presented by various government agencies.
In the words of the committee chairman, “the EFCC said they handed over this number of vessels to your office, the navy gives a different number and you have a different number — the same items, different inventories, different figures.”
In his response, Malami told the lawmakers to investigate the allegation through their oversight functions as he is “not in a position to confirm the discrepancies with the number of assets.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has returned the £4.2 million Ibori loot repatriated from the United Kingdom to the Delta state government.
Nigeria’s Accountant-General, Ahmed Idris, made this known on Tuesday while addressing the Abuja House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for Effective Efficient Management and Utilisation.
Idris said the decision was in line with the laid down procedure as funds looted from a state are usually returned to the state.
Source: Naija News