Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), says the Federal Government has recovered N15bn and $10.5 million so far in its asset recovery drive. But Nigerians are asking why the Government still needs to borrow money after all the money that have been recovered.
Malami disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja when the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters visited the ministry on its oversight function to appraise the 2016 budget performance of the ministry.
He said, “Let me put it on record that the Federal Ministry of Justice has equally significantly recorded success in the recovery drive as it relates to the looted funds.
“In that regard and direction, over N15bn has been recovered by the ministry and $10.5m was equally recovered in that direction.”
The minister said that exclusive of the recoveries, the revenue profile of the ministry as at Dec. 31, 2016, was N12.4m.
He said this was generated from sale of journals, renting of part of the headquarters building to commercial entities, use of its conference hall, tender fees and sale of unserviceable items.
He added that the total expenditure profile of the ministry within the same period was N3.7bn, including personnel and non-regular allowances.
The chief law officer of the country said that the ministry, by virtue of its mandate, was in a vantage position to articulate and implement the present administration’s broad policy objectives in four major priority areas.
“The anti-corruption campaign, the recovery of stolen national assets, the rule of law component of the anti-terrorism war and the institutionalisation of law and order in all aspects of national life,’’ he said.
On Nigeria’s non-membership of the Financial Action Task Force, Malami explained that it will take the collaboration of both the executive and the legislature to scale all the hurdles.
He said, “Among some of the demands required to become a member are the passing of the Money Laundering Act, Proceeds of Crime Act and Autonomy of the Financial Task Force.
“All these bills are still pending before the legislature and have not been passed, so we need to work together to get Nigeria registered.’’
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. David Umaru (APC-Niger) said the 2016 budget was fraught with challenges but noted that the ministry and its parastatals was able to make judicious use of it.
He said the committee was not oblivious of the recent economic challenges in the country and was already preparing for the 2017 budget defence.
Umaru said the committee would work in consultation with the executive, particularly the justice ministry, to ensure that the budget was passed so as to address the economic situation in the country.
He added that the committee was also working to ensure that all bills necessary to make the work of the ministry and its parastatals easier were been looked into with a view to passing them soon.
A member of the committee, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu) decried Nigeria’s non-membership of the FATF.
According to Utazi, as a country that really wants to fight corruption, if we are on the FATF, it will help us to recover some of the stolen assets.
He said, “Nigeria is not a member of FATF, this is a very important membership which we have not yet gotten and this can help us recover stolen assets since it is one of its core mandates.’’
He lamented that office of the attorneys-general always put in applications for membership every year but failed to follow it through.
The lawmaker said that the shuttle diplomacy Nigeria was engaging in would not yield much without a membership of the FATF as no other member would give Nigeria support unless it was registered.
N3.9bn was appropriated for the main ministry in the 2016 budget with overhead cost taking over N1.7bn.