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Saturday, 20 February 2016

Why FG can’t recover funds looted by ex-government officials

Diezani Alison-Madueke was arrested in London on suspicion of bribery and money laundering.
The lack of funds is reportedly frustrating Nigeria’s effort to trace and recover its stolen money and prosecute corrupt former government officials.
Premium Times obtained a letter written by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption (PACC) to a United Kingdom-based anti-corruption organisation, Global Witness, soliciting assistance in raising funds.
The letter, dated February 15, 2016, was signed by Bolaji Owasanoye, the executive secretary of PACC, and directed to Simon Taylor, the director of Global Witness.
The letter stated that due to the fall in crude oil prices, mounting debts and other economic problems, the federal government lacked the needed funds to pursue recovery of loots.
Professor Owasanoye said that the economy could not be revived simply by improving revenue generation, without wiping out corruption and recovering stolen money.

He further noted that ongoing investigations into the diversion of arms funds by Sambo Dasuki, the former national security adviser, and ex-military chiefs, show that significant amount of the money was still in “the pockets and bank accounts of looters of public funds”.
Owasanoye said that intelligence reports and court rulings have shown that more funds must be recovered from the former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, the fraudulent sale of OPL 245 by Malabu Oil and Gas, a company owned by Dan Etete, the ex-governor of Delta state, James Ibori, and former military ruler, Sani Abacha.
However, professor noted that the government needs huge flow of resources to hire professional lawyers and forensic financial investigators who will help to win the war against corruption in the country.
“However, this poses a major problem. An empty treasury means that the money is not currently available for the government to engage these professionals due to the high fee that they charge.
“Even in cases where service will be given on contingency basis the initial seed fund required to start the process is not affordable. As a result, the action the government urgently seeks to take is being stymied,” he wrote.
According to Owasanoye, the government’s capacity to pursue all potential cases would be greatly boosted by the creation of an Assets Tracing, Recovery and Litigation Fund from which lawyers, investigators and forensic auditors will be paid.

“Once engaged, government can negotiate with the professionals to earn only success fees. Each professional engaged will secure its own litigation funders to support their briefs,” he added.
Owasanoye stressed that the fund was crucial to government ability to get recovery assets to support social welfare projects for the impoverished majority of Nigerians.
“Furthermore, funding support will enable government to use money that would have otherwise gone to professionals for assets recovery for other social protection projects,” he added.
Earlier this week, Amaechina Madueke, the husband of the controversial former oil minister, has been recently arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Madueke who was arraigned for laundering more than $600,000 via his personal accounts was released on administrative bail.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has recently said that he is unable to prosecute Deizani Alison-Madueke and other petroleum workers over what he called lack of evidence.

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