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What to do with recovered stolen assets – Experts - Nigeria News - Talk Africana

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What to do with recovered stolen assets – Experts by AndrewO: 2:1 am On 7 Jul 2016
What to do with recovered stolen
assets – Experts
by Joseph Jibueze, July 21, 2016 at 6:34 pm in
Featured , News
Legal experts and other stakeholders Thursday
called for the establishment of a centralised
agency to manage assets recovered from
looters.
According to them, having a central asset
management institution would prevent
duplication of roles by security agencies that
are empowered to seize stolen assets.
They spoke in Abuja at the ongoing three-day
National Stakeholders’ Workshop on the
Recovery and Management of Recovered
Assets, organised by the Presidential Advisory
Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), in
collaboration with the Commonwealth
Secretariat.
Speakers included PACAC chairman Prof Itse
Sagay (SAN), Executive Director Prof Bolaji
Owasanoye, member Prof Etannibi Alemika;
Director, Stolen Assets Recovery Initiatives at
the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime
(UNODC)/World Bank Dr Oliver Stolpe,
Chattered Institute of Bankers president Prof
Segun Ajibola, international legal experts
Nicolaas Van Zyl and Fitzroy Drayton, among
others.
After a breakout session on the second day of
the workshop involving deliberations by
participants, it was recommended that a law
should be enacted to guide asset recovery
processes across all agencies.
The law, speakers said, will also contain
assets disposal guidelines, timelines, and
specify who should should recovered assets.
A clear policy, they recommended, will create
a common system for the management of
recovered assets and prevent re-looting or
their mis-management.
Rather than only seizing assets and allowing
them to rot away, it was suggested that
experts should be allowed to manage them
pending when a final forfeiture order is made.
Where funds are involved, they could be put
into an investment or interest-yielding
account.
For instance, Prof Owasanoye noted that
some forfeited vehicles are allowed to waste
in court premises when they could be put to
better use by asset managers, by either being
valued and then sold.
“The courts are not supposed to manage
assets. They are ill-prepared to do so,” he
said.
It was agreed that there must be a database
or record of all assets being seized, including
video records and photographs of the assets
to be taken at the point of seizure.
Every monetary seizure, they said, should be
kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),
while pre-qualify persons should act as
receivers to ensure a credible and transparent
policy.
It was also suggested that an inter-agency
committee could be created to liaise with all
the agencies empowered to seize assets, such
as the police, the National Drug Law
Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and anti-graft
agencies.
Another suggestion was that all security
agencies involved in assets seizure must have
a common reporting format, and must publish
annual reports of all assets either seized
temporarily pending conclusion of trial or
permanently .
There was, however, a debate as to whether
all recovered monies should to go into the
federation account in cases where those
monies are looted from states.
Prof Ajibola said: “There must be a legislative
action as to where recovered assets should
go, whether to the federation account or to a
dedicated account.”
He said the international community should do
due more due diligence on people who bring
huge funds into their countries.
According to him, “whoever received stolen
funds is also an accessory to the crime.”
Director, Rule of Law Division at the
Commonwealth Secretariat, Ms Katalaina
Sapolu, said suspected looters should not
complain of rights violation when effort is
made to recover assets from them.
She said efforts by previous administrations to
recover Nigeria’s looted assets did not yield
much result because of lack of trust by the
countries holding the stolen assets.
“This international cooperation is very
important; and I would have to say that from
my own experience it is really that trust. This
is because much of the reluctance or the
reason that is given by other countries is that,
‘are we returning the money to safe hands to
be reused for the benefit of the people of the
countries?’
“So, I strongly believe that with the new
political leadership and the political will that
has been demonstrated internationally, it will
work. It will help a lot.”
Sapolu said apart from the political will
demonstration by the Buhari administration to
fight corruption, the Commonwealth’s new
Secretary-General, Patricia Sapolu, had made
anti-corruption part of her priorities.
“I refer to the ‘tackling corruption together
conference’ held by the Commonwealth in
London in May.
It was held the day before the London Summit
that was hosted by the Prime Minister David
Cameron at the time and President Buhari
was our special guest at the Commonwealth
conference.
“He spoke very passionately and very
inspiringly about the priority his government is
giving to combatting corruption and he said
‘more importantly we want the recovery of
stolen assets’.
“So it was discussed between him and my
Secretary-General; we have a new Secretary-
General at Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland
(QC), and one of her priorities is tackling
corruption.
“We are here to further the agreement
between the Secretary-General and the
President that the Commonwealth will give its
support to Nigeria in fighting corruption.”

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