Benin City, Nigeria…The Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice, ANEEJ, has expressed its excitement about the recent treaties signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, and has commended the President for demonstrating that by signing these treaties with the United Arab Emirates, it is genuinely committed to bringing corrupt public officials who stole from the common purse and hiding abroad to justice.
The treaties which the President signed included the Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters, Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters and the Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, all of which ratified other tripartite agreements in the areas of legal assistance in criminal, civil and commercial matters, and extradition.
“We are happy that President Buhari and the Government of UAE took this important step because there are indications that the UAE over the years remained a safe destination for so many Nigerian public coffers looters to hide their loot, even in properties.
‘Even though the treaties cover a whole range of bilateral protocols between Nigeria and other nations, ANEEJ is particularly happy that a good part of the protocols concern the repatriation of both the looters of our assets, together with the loot stashed abroad. An important eschatocol supporting the treaty concerning the Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters and the Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons signal to looters of our common patrimony hiding in Europe and America, is that even though the wheels of justice may grind a bit slow, the law will catch up eventually’, ANEEJ Executive Director, the Rev David Ugolor has said in a statement to the media.
Nigeria – together with Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine – is key to the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) which was established as an outcome of the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit, hosted by the UK in May, 2016. In August 2017, the GFAR held a Summit in Vienna, focusing on the communique issued by the United Nations Convention against Corruption, UNCAC. The thrust of that communique states that there will be a call for all proceeds of corruption wherever they may be, to be identified, seized, confiscated and returned.
‘Therefore, what the treaties signed by Mr President has done is put Nigeria strongly in the line of focus for asset recovery, highlighting the importance of strong political commitment, multijurisdictional coordination, and practitioner interaction’.
‘We call on the National Assembly of Nigeria to seal these treaties by passing with post haste speed the Mutual Legal Assistance Bill and all such bills before it. Some treaties such as the ones recently signed by Mr. President often require a local implementing legislation to direct and enable a country to fulfil its treaty obligations’, the Rev Ugolor said.