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Saturday, October 15

AGF to Nigerians: use FOI to access assets declaration

AGF to Nigerians: use FOI to access assets declaration

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN

Contrary to general belief, every Nigerian can access information about assets declared by public officers to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), using the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN) said yesterday.

Malami said Section 1 of the Act empowers individuals, corporate bodies and personalities to apply for information and have it made available by public institutions without any restriction.

The AGF, who spoke in Abuja yesterday, said the actual amount of money stolen from the nation’s treasury and held abroad could not be ascertained by the federal government.

The minister, who spoke at a media roundtable held to promote the Open Government Partnership (OPG) initiative of the government, noted that the current government was committed to transparency in the management of state affairs. Malami said: “I think Nigeria is one of the limited numbers of nations that have, as a matter of obligation, passed the Freedom of Information Act.

“Section 1 of the Act vest powers in individuals, corporate bodies, and personalities to apply for information and have it made available without restriction.

“What I am saying in essence is that it is not only a policy statement, but a demonstration of legislative commitment and legislative action on the part of Nigeria as it relates to transparency of the process; not only restricted to the Code of Conduct Bureau, but in all circles of government.”

Malami argued that it was impossible for the federal government to categorically state the amount of Nigeria’s stolen funds stashed abroad even though the process of recovering them had been ongoing for over ýone year.

He said that the dynamics of differences in the laws of various countries where the funds were stashed as well as ongoing investigations into the looted funds had made it impossible for government to be able to know precisely how much of the nation’s stolen funds were stashed abroad.

“I want to state that it is impossible to give you a clear cut figure but particularly against the background of complexities of issues associated with the recoveries,” he said. “Investigative processes are ongoing; it keeps changing by the minute, changing by the hour, changing by the day, depending on the prevailing circumstances.

“So, against the background of the complexities, against the background of the dynamics of the processes, and against the background of differences in law, it is not a position over which one can give categorical commitment which figures. But, that does not mean we do not have an idea of it on case -by-case basis. There are cases that are pending in court. There are cases that are subject to compromises and concessions with parties.

“So the heads are multiple, the approaches are different, the jurisdictions are dynamic and such categorical disclosure of figures is impossible at this hour because it all depends on the angle that we are to look at it,” Malami said.

The AGF explained that the OPG was a global initiative adopted by the government in fulfillment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ýcommitment to deepening the government’s anti-corruption polices, transparency and reforms already undertaken by government.

Also at the event were the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Ekpo Nta, and a representative of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir, Mohammed Nakoji.

Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, and representative of the Chairman of the CCB, Sam Saba, Dr Ademola Adebo also attended the event.

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