Why FG is Unable to Repatriate $15m Arms Seized by South Africa

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) on Tuesday said the Federal Government was doing everything possible to recover the $15m arms money seized from Nigerian by the government of South Africa in September 2014.
He attributed the delay in the recovery of the money on the cumbersome legal process between the two countries.
The Minister, while addressing a press conference in Abuja on the activities of his Ministry said: “The recovery process involves mostly nation’s, whose legal system is diverse, processes in respect of diplomatic considerations equally play its roles over and above international conventions and best practices.
“So, when multiplicity of legal systems became an issue, multiplicity of diplomatic engagement is in contention, delay is naturally bound to set in”, he said.
He added that
Disturbed by the want of legal expertise in the conduct and process of investigations by security agencies in the country, the AGF announced the establishment of an Investigation Unit within his ministry.
He said the unit shall coordinate and form part of every investigation in Nigeria for a robust investigation and successful prosecution of criminal cases, adding also that the Unit will address the anomalies that lead to consistent rejection of vital evidence in the course of prosecution because of the inappropriate investigation.
Malami said the unit will, among other things ensure that every investigation is comprehensively and conclusively conducted.
The move, according to Malami, is part of efforts at repositioning the Ministry of Justice for improved and efficient justice delivery, including the issue of overcrowding occasioned by a large number of prisoners awaiting trials.
The Minister said, the Federal Government will establish a case management system to integrate with existing prison information management system covering Lagos, Enugu and the Federal Capital Territory.
He said:”In accordance with the approval and mandate of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in its 19th meeting held on Wednesday, 24th May 2017, the FMOJ in collaboration with other stakeholders (subject to availability of funds), will undertake the following implementation strategies aimed at prison reforms and decongestion.
“We are looking at a two year time frame”, he added.
Malami disclosed that some of the strategies will involve the installation and implementation of a State of the art modern Virtual Automated Case Management System (V-ACMS) that would assist the Ministry with necessary information on prison inmates.
Similarly, the establishment of the Central Coordinating Unit to handle all Federal government Criminal cases is expected to tackle the issue of lack of effective cooperation and collaboration among the criminal justice and security agencies in the country.
The unit Malami said will enable the office of the AGF have a firsthand information of the status of all Criminal investigations/trials in the country.
“It will also enable the office of the HAGF to checkmate abuse and or proliferation of criminal cases in Nigeria, and further facilitates centralization and easy access to information for a robust and effective Criminal Justice system in Nigeria”, he said.
He identified the lack of legal expertise in the conduct and process of investigations by the various security agencies which he noted led to the consistent rejection of vital evidence in the course of prosecution and the witling down of the probative value of such evidence owing to inappropriate investigation.
To this end, the Minister said an Investigation Unit which will be located in the Ministry will be established with the aim of coordinating all prosecution cases of the Federal government.
“The Core function/mandate of the investigation unit shall consist of the following: To beforehand advice every security agency carrying out investigation on the best lawful and admissible means of such investigation for effective prosecution thereafter;
“To actively form part of every sensitive and important investigation, as a synergy to successful investigation and prosecution of such cases;
“To ensure that every evidence obtained maintain the nature, value and form admissible in law court; and
“To ensure that every investigation is comprehensively and conclusively conduxted”, he said.
Other fallout of the reform include the creation of Judgment Debt Verification and Compliance Committee, saddled with the responsibility of assisting the ministry reduce what Malami described as the quantum of existing and accruing judgment debt associated with prolonged non-payment of judgment debts against Federal Government and its MDAs.
According to the AGF, the judgment debt profile of the ministry as at 2016 is N113.
Malami however noted that the Ministry through the Department of Civil Litigation saved Federal Government the sum of N119bn been monies claimed by various parties in form of damages or loss against the Federal Government.

Author: News Editor

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