Arms deal: FG explains delay in recovery of seized $15m arms money

AGF - Abubakar Malami
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN)

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) on Tuesday blamed the delay in the recovery of the $15 million arms money seized from Nigerian by the government of South Africa in September 2014 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 and added however that the Federal Government is doing everything possible to ensure the recovery of the money.

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.

On the issue of prison decongestion, 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.

The AGF also announced that his ministry is working on getting the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the installation and implementation of a state of the art modern Virtual Automated Case Management System (V-ACMS) to incorporate an online up-to-date integrated biometrics prisoners’ information technology that would strengthen the operations of the federal justice sector institutions and eliminate bottlenecks in the administration of criminal justice system in the country.

He noted that the pressing problem in the Nigerian Prisons system is the overcrowding caused by the majority of prisoners awaiting trial and added that modalities will be put in place to reduce prisoners’ population and that the committee on prerogative of mercy will further consider and recommend inmates that would be granted state pardon.

According to the minister, the judgment dept profile of the ministry stood at N113 billion as at last year, which he said necessitated the reestablishment of the Judgment Dept Verification Committee to assist in reducing the quantum of the dept against the Federal Government, by reaching a compromise with judgment-creditors on modalities and payment of such debts.

He said, in spite of the numerous challenges like, the prolonged and inconclusive investigation by law enforcement agencies, lack of funds to sponsor witness to court, delay in mobilsing prosecutors, delay in the production of case files to his office by law enforcement agencies among other challenges, officers in the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) have been able to secure commendable convictions.

Malami told the management staff of his ministry that there is the need for a change in administrative mechanism and ideology for better performance.

“The need for institutional and policy reforms within the justice sector is of prime importance in the life of every nation as the concept of democracy, human rights, rule of law and economic growth cannot be sustained without efficient and reliable justice delivery system.”, he said.


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