Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), yesterday, said Nigeria was yet to receive about €175 million starched in a foreign account by late military dictator, General Sani Abacha.
Adoke, who spoke at the 2013 ministerial press briefing held in Abuja, yesterday, to highlight the mid-term achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration as it pertains to the Ministry of Justice, said Federal Government had intensified its efforts to trace and repatriate Nigeria’s stolen assets abroad.
He said: “In this connection, we have maintained effective liaison and communication with targeted jurisdictions to keep pace with asset recovery proceedings in those jurisdictions.
“In 2011, our close liaison and negotiation with the Island of Jersey led to the recovery and repatriation of £22.5 million confiscated by the Royal Court of Jersey from Raj Arjandes Bhojwani, an Indian national and associate of General Sani Abacha, on account of his money laundering transactions from Nigeria.
We continued the liaison and negotiations with the Principality of Liechtenstein, which recently confiscated EUR 175 million from the Abacha family and associated companies in Liechtenstein following a confiscation order by the Supreme Court of Liechtenstein. “However, the companies involved have lodged an appeal against the decision before the European Court of Justice in Strasburg.
“As soon as the appeal is concluded, firm arrangements consistent with the asset recovery provisions of the United Nations Convention against corruption, would be made to repatriate the forfeited sums to Nigeria.”
Meantime, Adoke disclosed that the Ministry of Justice, within the year under review, received 60 petitions bordering on breach of rights of citizens, lack of action on criminal matters by the law enforcement agencies.
Why FG can’t pardon Al-Mustapha
He also gave reasons why Federal Government cannot pardon the former Chief Security Officer to late General Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha.
It will be recalled that a Lagos High Court had sentenced Al-Mustapha, who is currently in prison custody, to death by hanging after he was found guilty in the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, wife of late business mogul and presumed winner of the June 12 presidential election, Bashorun M.K.O Abiola. Adoke, who noted that Al-Mustapha was tried and convicted under the Lagos State law, insisted that Federal Government lacked the powers to delve into the case as such action would tantamount to subjudice. He said: “The case has gone to the Court of Appeal. It is not within the authority of the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, as it stands today. Even commenting on it will amount to subjudice. Justice is taking its course.”
While acknowledging that Nigeria is presently a part of the global debate on death sentence, Adoke said there was nothing the government could do to stop the execution of those currently on the waiting list of the hangman. He said most of the offences that attract death penalty fall under laws within the jurisdiction of states.
He maintained that in view of the fact that Nigeria is a country under the principle of federalism, there is nothing the Federal Government can do, pending the review of some of the extant laws, adding, “we hope the laws will be reviewed.”