Story from Kenneth AFOR, Lagos
The Federal Government of Nigeria has launched the Central Database for Asset Recovery and Management in Abuja, commends Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJs) involvement in the monitoring of returned assets into the country.
According to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, in his address to guests, President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is committed towards the fight against corruption at all levels in the country he, therefore assured that the Unit set up by the Presidency will not give room returned assets to be re-looted.
“I am pleased to be part of this historic event under my supervision and I wish to specially thank the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Dayo Apata, SAN and his team in the Asset Recovery and Management Unit, the Civil Society Organisation support from Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and our local consultant, Counter Fraud Centre who have worked assiduously and extensively to develop these historic tools, the Central Database on recovered asset and the Central Criminal Justice Information System under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 and the National Anti-Corruption Strategy respectively to assist in the fight against corruption,” he said.
The minister noted that the central base which is one of the moves in stamping out corruption out of the country would deepen the administration’s quest for transparency and accountability adding the ministry under his watch would adopt 21st-century technology in achieving the quest.
“The Central database for asset recovery is a product of our commitments, as a Government towards the fight against corruption with particular reference to our membership of international organisations inclusive of financial action Task Force, open Government Partnership targeted at deepening transparency within this context of United Nations Convention Against Corruption. The Database that will be put in place will ensure uniformity of process and real-time access and information feeding.
“It is to deepen our transparency and accountability. We have established that commitment through the inclusion of civil society organizations, in our fight against corruption, enrolled as members of Open Government Partnership, Establish Legal Framework that establishes Anti-Corruption Agencies and we are now committed to deploying technology to deepen our transparency; that is what the Central Database we are launching here today is all about,” he noted.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, the Rev David Ugolor in a goodwill message at the event reaffirmed ANEEJ’s commitment to continue to work with the Federal Ministry of Justice and ARMU in the task of transparent return of looted assets stashed in foreign jurisdictions and the accountable use of returned assets for the development of Nigeria.
On the other hand, the Executive Director, ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor during his remarks commended Malami for his commitment in the fight against corruption and for his re-presentation of the Proceeds of Crime Bill (POCA Bill) to the National Assembly, which according to him, will provide a robust legal framework for asset recovery and management in the country.
He, therefore, called on the leadership and entire members of the National Assembly to expeditiously consider and pass the POCA Bill for presidential assent so as to address existing gaps in the task of asset recovery and management in the country.
The organisation in collaboration with its 8 partners revealed that they are currently keeping an eye on the $322.5 million Abacha II returned from Switzerland, and $311.9 million Abacha III loot returned from Jersey and U.S.A. ANEEJ and its partners had monitored $500 million Abacha 1 in 2004/2005.
Also, they are also set to monitor the use of €5 million Abacha IV being returned from Ireland, Chief James Ibori loot from the United Kingdom and the Diepriye Alamiyeseigha $900,000 loot which is to be returned from the United States of America.
ANEEJ efforts are geared towards the actualisation of its Monitoring Transparency and Accountability in use of Returned Assets (MANTRA) project being supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), formerly DFID under the Anti-Corruption (ACORN) Programme.