By Angela Atabo
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has urged the Federal Government to set up a legal framework for the management and utilisation of recovered looted assets.
Executive Director CISLAC Auwal Rafsanjani said this at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja.
Rafsanjani said that the delay in setting up the framework had greatly undermined asset recovery and management process in Nigeria.
He said that the delay had cost Nigeria billions in lost opportunities as international partners refused to be involved in recoveries.
This, he said was because the international partners were not convinced that recovered assets would not be re-looted.
He said in order to ensure transparency, government needed to establish a database that would contain details of recovered assets including details of persons from whom they were recovered and how the assets were utilised.
“This database should be publicly accessible and should be containing all interim and final forfeitures of different types of movable and immovable assets seized by different agencies.
“We are yet to see some concrete results after many years of extensive international and domestic effort.
“It is important that independent civil society organisations, including victims, groups or representatives, are enabled to participate in the asset recovery process especially in the process of monitoring and deciding how recovered assets are utilised.
“The media has in this process played a crucial role in investigating the gaps in the current system and explaining who profits from the status quo; that is the reason we all agreed on solutions but we continue failing to implement them,” he said.
Rafsanjani said that international financial intelligence from Ministry of Finance, showed that around 18 billion dollars was lost abroad yearly to tax evasion, laundering of money and other stashing of illegal proceeds out of Nigeria.
He said that unfortunately, the amount put the country at the forefront in Africa as the worst illicit financial flow offender.
“To be fair, some success has been achieved in recent years in regards to the recovery of assets.
“Only two weeks ago, the millions Ibori loot was returned by the UK; while the Nigerian authorities have made some commendable gains, its advocacy for the speedy return of recovered assets has lost the moral high ground.
“The lacuna in the management of recovered asset was seen glaringly in the recent arguments between the federal Gyvernment and the Delta Government as to who owned the repatriated Ibori-loot,” he said.
Rafsanjani said that foreign assets recovered by government can not be compared with the number of assets seized domestically which included buildings, vehicles and others.
He therefore, encouraged the media to investigate what happened to the hundreds of assets seized domestically which were worth billions of naira.
“This is because international recoveries made headlines but domestic recoveries were not transparently managed,” he said.
The executive director said that it was difficult to ascertain the level of success in Nigeria’s asset recovery due to lack of transparency and because there was no central database for all recovered assets.
Rafsanjani said that Nigeria lacked a proper legislative framework for monitoring, managing and utilising recovered assets and from proceeds of crime, adding that something needed to be done on that. (NAN)