Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) has advised a human rights activist and SAN, Mr. Femi Falana not to mix up the issue of recovered loots with funds generated locally and within the purview of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
Malami, who urged the senior lawyer not to get Nigerians confused with his submissions on the issue, said Falana’s alleged erroneous assertion on the process of disbursement and use of recovered stolen funds based on the provisions of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act and Section 153 (1) (n) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, depicts a rash analysis devoid of clear legal foundations.
“Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act has nothing specific on funds recovered from indicted public officers or assets recovered internationally. It merely mentions accruals and disbursement of revenue from the Federation Account. So, questions of recovery of stolen funds from indicted public officers and illicit assets recovered internally are not contemplated by the spirit of the law internationally and are appropriately dealt with by other relevant laws.
“One cannot impute into legislation what is not specifically and expressly mentioned,” the AGF said.
Malami’s position was contained in a statement made available to journalists by his Media Aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu.
He said it is misleading to give the impression that recoveries and usage of stolen funds stashed abroad are provided for by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act.
“One cannot situate rights and entitlements on looted funds and recovered assets with myopic and narrow understating of concepts of the application of local legislation.
“For the avoidance of doubt and the purpose of setting the record straight, the application of the looted funds can only factor within the context of mutual understanding and negotiations of international and multifaceted jurisdictional and territorial legislative issues.
“Section 6 of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act has in part clearly outlines the powers of the Commission. In particular, sub-section (1) (a) empowers the Commission to monitor the accruals to and the disbursement of revenue from the Federation Account. This purely targets revenue already in the
Federation Account or funds accruing from sources designated by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended. This derivation formula is local and applies locally within Nigeria. This is not the case with recovery of stolen funds.
“It is interesting to note that Section 80 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) contemplates exceptions to funds not payable into the federation account. The Section recognises the possibility of having public funds being
administered other than through the derivation formula if the funds (in this case recovered stolen funds) were established for a specific purpose”, the statement read in part.
It added that the disbursement formula mentioned by Falana, is applicable in relation to monies belonging to the federal government that are locally generated and not to be confused with stolen funds and assets domiciled in foreign jurisdictions whose recovery and
subsequent repatriation are based on international legal arrangements between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the foreign custodians of the said funds.
“It is always important for public figures such as Falana to make statements that will enlighten the general public, rather that render utterances that are simply misleading and calculated at striking discord and confusion in the public domain,” he said.