Justice Ministry Takes-over 8000 Cases from Police for Effective Prosecution
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN on Wednesday said that his office had taken over 8000 case files from the Nigeria Police Force for prosecution.
Speaking at the Nigerian Bar Association's National Conference in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Malami said that his office took over the case files pursuant to the enforcement of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
He said Section 106 of the Act has substantially transferred the responsibility for the prosecution of all criminal matters to the Federal Ministry of Justice, noting that the section has expressly prohibited prosecution by policemen who are not trained lawyers.
He said that government remained committed to the fight against corruption and would also observe rule of law in doing so.
According to him, government had recorded some successes in recovering stolen wealth while prosecution of those indicted were on going.
On the international scene, he said Nigeria had started receiving greater cooperation from the international community.
"We have therefore begun to receive greater cooperation from all such foreign entities.
"Recently, we signed an MOU with the Swiss Federation that will ensure the imminent repatriation of USD321 million Nigerian funds in Switzerland. We are equally addressing, through a robust Mutual Legal Assistance mechanism, the legal challenges which had hitherto tied down assets in excess of USD 500 million Dollars in jurisdictions such as the United States, Jersey Islands and the United Kingdom.
"In January, we signed four critical agreements with the United Arab Emirates, which is a favourite destination of Nigerian funds, to enable us commence long-term cooperation to block and recover illicit funds in that jurisdiction," he further stated.
Malami said the gaps in legislation had led to a situation where Nigeria continued to face the potential erosion of its sovereignty through the insistence of foreign partners in monitoring the use of recovered funds, due to the absence of an institutional mechanism for the management of such recovered assets.
He further noted that at present, the procedures for assets recovery and management were spread out across various laws which did not give sufficient guidance in relation to predictability and comprehensiveness, thus rendering them inadequate.
He said: " In addition, the current laws do not provide for a central management and regulation of procedure to secure assets recovered from suspects, thus creating the possibility of fraud, abuse or poor implementation.
"It is to cure the above defects that the present administration took steps to re-transmit the Bill for the establishment of the ‘Proceeds of Crime Agency’ (POCA) to the National Assembly for re-consideration and eventual passage into law. The Bill has become very important in order to enable Nigeria meet international standards in the recovery of stolen assets."
He said the bill would also ensure coordination and proper management of assets recovered from those suspected or convicted of embezzling public funds.