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Why Fed Govt must seize looters’ assets, by Ribadu - Nigeria News - Talk Africana

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Why Fed Govt must seize looters’ assets, by Ribadu by AndrewO: 2:1 am On 7 Jul 2016
Why Fed Govt must seize looters’
assets, by Ribadu
by Yusuf Alli, Abuja And Joseph Jibueze, July
21, 2016 at 12:34 am in Featured, News
Former Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC) Chairman Nuhu Ribadu
yesterday said seizure of assets of looters is
an integral part of the war against corruption.
He also said President Muhammadu Buhari
has the political will to allow the war to be
fought without interference and the eagerness
to support it in whatever way possible.
Ribadu said the nation has recorded
unprecedented recoveries and high profile
cases under EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu.
He said his own era as the chairman of the
anti-graft agency had returned to the EFCC.
But he expressed concern that some lawyers
took advantage of the probe of the $180m
Halliburton scam to milk the nation dry.
Ribadu made the submissions in a paper at
the National Stakeholders Workshop on
Recovery and Management of Recovered
Assets, organised by the Presidential Advisory
Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) in
collaboration with the Commonwealth
Secretariat.
He said international cooperation and linkages
helped the EFCC in successfully tracing and
recovering assets of former governors Joshua
Dariye, DSP Alamieyeseigha and James Ibori
and Mr. Emmanuel Nwude.
PACAC Chairman, Prof Itsay Sagay (SAN) said
if Ribadu had not been removed, maybe
corruption would not have become so
endemic.
He said developing strategies for recovery of
stolen assets would act as a deterrent to
looters.
“Seizure of assets is more painful to them
than imprisonment,” Sagay said.
Ribadu denied allegations that he was part of
those who allegedly re-looted recovered
assets, including N1trillion, and expressed
surprise that it was a subject of Senate
investigation.
He said: “Considering the care we took in
handling whatever was in our custody, I find it
baffling and disheartening when I hear people
make insinuations about how we handled
recovered assets.
“It is a most unfair remark but certainly not
totally surprising as the fight against
corruption is essentially a thankless job,
especially in our climes.
“That was why I was telling Prof Sagay: ‘don’t
bother sir, people will abuse you; don’t say
anything. This is the job’.
“We are hurting people; we are taking things
from those who took things and we denied
them chance to make use of them and enjoy
with their family.
“I’m still paying dearly. In my own madness, I
decided to go into politics and I am still
paying for it. But I am not bothered. I’ll
continue fighting till my last breath. If I’m
given the opportunity I’ll do it again.”
Ribadu went on: “Asset forfeiture is an
integral component of the anti-corruption work
as it serves many purposes within the
framework.
“First, it serves as restitution in the sense
that what was ill-gotten is returned to the
right owner(s). It also functions as deterrence
to others as those who illegally enrich
themselves get stripped of that wealth
overnight.
“Similarly, through proceeds of final assets
forfeiture, government can make extra money
that can be channelled to projects that would
enable growth and development of the state.
“As a specialised element of the anti-
corruption process, asset recovery requires
professional and dedicated people, comprising
investigators, prosecutors and managers to
handle it jointly for effectiveness and to derive
the maximum benefits.
“A point therefore has to be made on the
importance of diligent investigation to
successful and fruitful asset recovery and
management.
“Whatever success that is made of forfeiture
or recoveries depends on the thoroughness of
investigation and diligence of prosecution and
ability of investigators to trace whatever is
traceable and recoverable. The success of
asset forfeiture begins with the investigation.
“Surprisingly, however, in spite of the lack of
adequate legal guidance and other limitations,
Nigeria is perhaps the most successful
country in terms of asset recoveries from
foreign lands. Over time, a lot of money has
been successfully returned to us in assets
laundered in several countries.”
Ribadu expressed concern that some lawyers
took advantage of the probe of the $180m
Halliburton scam to milk the nation dry.
He said: “Contrary to such insinuations about
self-enrichment, it was some people, not us or
even the government, that made money from
some of those cases.
“A case in point is the Halliburton
investigation where after we had done the
bulk of the work, it was turned into a milking
cow for some senior lawyers who made
millions of dollars out of it.”
The ex-EFCC chairman said President
Muhammadu Buhari has a rare political will to
fight corruption.
He also said EFCC chairman Magu and his
team have made unprecedented recoveries in
the history of Nigeria.
He pleaded with Nigerians to support Buhari’s
anti-graft war.
He said: “ For me, this period is an important
episode for this work, being a time that we
have the most vital tool needed in this war,
namely political will. I see in the present
leadership, specifically the president, the will
to allow the war to be fought without
interference and the eagerness to support it in
whatever way possible. These two points are
important prerequisite in winning the anti-
corruption war.
“We are also lucky to have a set of people
that are very passionate and committed to be
in charge of the process. Added to this, we
have a plethora of practitioners, intellectuals,
activists and the media that are keen and
supportive of the campaign.
PACAC Executive Secretary Prof Bolaji
Owasanoye said between $20billion and
$40billion is stolen annually from developing
countries.
According to him, seizure is important to the
asset recovery process as it ensures the
blockage or preservation of assets.
Director, Rule of Law Division, Commonwealth
Secretariat, Katalaina Sapolu, said the
international community and the
Commonwealth would support the Buhari
administration’s bid to recover stolen funds.
“We do not think that there has been, in many
jurisdictions, a really settled view on the
approach, because it requires development of
policy and establishment of relevant
institutional frameworks,” Ms Sapolu said.
According to her, the outcome of the three-
day workshop would help in the formulation of
such policies.

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