£2.1m Corruption Proceeds: Nigeria signs asset sharing agreement with Jersey

Lateef Fagbemi, SAN

The Federal Government has signed Asset Sharing Agreement with the Bailiwick of Jersey for the return of £2,125,944 proceeds of corruption.

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) who, disclosed this on Friday in Abuja while presenting the score-card of his ministry as part of the activities to mark the first year anniversary of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, added that, the signing of the agreement in February this year, was in line with the cardinal principle of the present administration in the fight against corruption,

He said, President Tinubu has already given approval for the use of money for the continuation of works on the Abuja-Kano Road project.

The AGF further noted that, an efficient justice delivery system is key to ensuring Nigeria’s economic growth and development, as well as ensuring the socio-economic wellbeing of citizens.

“Investors are attracted to economies that have institutionalized functional judicial system and where the rule of law prevails”, he said and added that, President Tinubu, at the inception of his administration, directed that deliberate steps be taken to ensure strategic reforms in various sectors.

Fagbemi said, his Ministry has made concerted and collaborative efforts with relevant stakeholders in the justice sector which culminated in remarkable achievements in the areas of access to justice, administration of criminal justice, prosecution, response to litigation, legislative reforms, anti-corruption and promotion of rule of law.

According to him, justice sector transcends the Ministry of Justice and that, Policies and activities in the justice sector are driven by different stakeholders who play assigned roles ranging from enactment of laws (rules and regulations), interpretation of laws (adjudication), implementation, and enforcement of laws, with the ultimate aim of ensuring access to justice.

In furtherance of the Ministry’s mandate of enhancing national security and safety through prosecution, he said, the Ministry secured 160 convictions for criminal offences, 87 convictions for terrorism cases, three novel convictions for extremist terrorism actors involved in the radicalization of children and violence against women.

The AGF disclosed that, the Ministry has resumed trials of terrorism cases in conjunction with the Legal Aid Council, National Human Rights Commission and other stakeholders and that, the percentages of Terrorism Cases initiated and Corruption Cases concluded within the reporting period has been significant.

He said, the Ministry secured the conviction of 13 terrorism financing cases, successfully concluded 150 mutual legal assistance requests and 12 extradition requests from law enforcement agencies and foreign countries.

As a way of enhancing the Prosecutorial and Litigation capacity of its staff, the ministry organized capacity building programmes to improve knowledge on various aspects of the Law, including Darknet and Cryptocurrencies applied to Terrorism Financing, investigation and prosecution of financial and Wildlife Crimes in Nigeria.

The AGF added that, the Ministry, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on April 25, 2024 concluded negotiation of a Settlement Agreement with Glencore International A.G. wherein Glencore is expected to pay the sum of $50 million as penalty and compensation for certain activities in Nigeria.

He said, Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Regulation 2024 was developed by the Ministry with relevant Agencies to ensure transparency, accountability and standardization in the management of recovered assets, in line with global best practices.

“In the reporting period, a total of 625 cases instituted against the President, Federal Government and its Agencies, before States, Federal and ECOWAS Court were served and responded by the Ministry.

“The Ministry also received and treated 593 requests for legal advice and Petitions from May 2023 till date. In all, the Ministry obtained 235 judgements from May, 2023 to date.

“You may recall that this administration witnessed a landmark decision in an arbitration instituted against Nigeria by Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited, wherein a UK commercial Court set aside an arbitral award of over $11 billion, granted against the FGN in the United Kingdom for breach of a gas supply and processing agreement.

“Further to this, I am pleased to report that due to concerted efforts of our legal team, Nigeria has been awarded interim costs in the sum £20 million against P&ID”, he said.

Within the period, Fagbemi said, the Justice Ministry vetted/reviewed 485 Contracts and PPP Projects to ensure value for money, eliminate corruption and ensure adequate protection of FGN investments and added that, a total of 574 Legal Opinions were also proffered during the reporting period.

The Ministry, he said, coordinated the development of a draft National Policy on Arbitration which is currently being finalized for presentation and approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Fagbemi noted that, the National Policy on Arbitration seeks to promote arbitration and other dispute resolution mechanisms for fast-tracking resolution of economic disputes, as well as streamline arbitral proceedings in order to avoid the pitfalls prevalent in the current unstructured process.

The policy also promotes the implementation of Nigeria’s treaty obligations under various International Arbitration Conventions and promote Nigeria as an Arbitration hub in Africa.

The Minister also gave highlights on the achievements of  Parastatals/Agencies under the Federal Ministry of Justice in the period under review and stressed the need for collaboration between Federal, State and other stakeholders in the justice sector to drive the reforms of the justice system for national development.

[Tribune online]

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