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Itse Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), has asked the federal government to return £4.2 million Ibori loot to Delta state.
The United Kingdom had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the federal government to return £4.2 million loot recovered from James Ibori, former governor of Delta, and his associates.
The federal government had said the loot would be used to fund three infrastructural projects–the second Niger bridge, Lagos–Ibadan and Abuja–Kano expressways.
Reacting to the development in an interview with The Punch, Sagay said it is unacceptable that the funds will be used for projects outside Delta state where the money was taken from.
“The money came from Delta state. Naturally, it must go back to Delta state. I know the basis of the federal government argument. It is not just about the MoU. There is a provision in the EFCC Act which says all monies recovered should go to the federal government,” Sagay said.
“I think they may want to rely on this. However, that law is void because a law cannot be based on transferring the assets belonging to one person to another. My advice is for the federal government to ask the Delta state government to nominate projects they want to undertake and then money would be released for the projects.
“The Ibori money being used for Lagos-Ibadan expressway and others is unacceptable. You cannot use money from Delta State to fix projects in other places. The Federal Government can also use the money to fund its many projects in Delta State like the Benin-Warri road and many others.”
In the meantime, Human rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has called for the return of the £4.2million looted by ex-Delta State Governor, James Ibori back to the Niger Delta state.
Falana made the call on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, noting that the Federal Government cannot lay claim to the fund under any law.
“The Federal Government ought to be commended for pursuing this matter having regards to the fact that this case is a collabo issue between the EFCC under Malami/Ribadu and the Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom,” he said.
Falana added, “Having acknowledged the role of the Federal Government, the fund has to return to the source. As the Attorney General has said, the money is over £100 million. So what has been released now is the first tranche of £4.2 million.
“Since the money left the covers of the Delta State Government, it has to be returned once it is recovered.”
While noting that the ex-Delta governor was convicted in the UK under the country’s law, the senior lawyer said the victim of corruption has to be compensated.
Falana argued that Article 35 of the United Nations Convention that is ratified by the United Kingdom and Nigeria respectively, any proceed recovered from corruption should be expended on the victims.
To the human rights lawyer, the victim in the said corrupt practice is the people of Delta State and the state government.
His remarks come a day after the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to return the sum of £4.2 million assets stolen by former Delta State Governor, James Ibori to Nigeria.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing who announced this in Abuja, the nation’s capital said the money was recovered from friends and family members of the former governor.