ABUJA, NIGERIA. September 18, 2020… The fight against corruption in Nigeria received a major boost yesterday as the Federal Government launched a Central database and the Central Criminal Justice Information system of the Assets Recovery and Management Unit (ARMU), an arm of the Federal Ministry of Justice with support from the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) as part of implementation of the Federal Government’s anti-corruption strategy (2017-2021).
At the well-attended event, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, reiterated the determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to fight against corruption at all levels in the country, assuring that the Asset Recovery and Management Unit will continue to ensure that returned assets are not re-looted.
Launching the Central database, Malami told the august gathering: “I am pleased to be part of this historic event under my supervision and I wish to specially thank the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Dayo Apata, SAN and his team in the Asset Recovery and Management Unit, the Civil Society Organisation support from Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and our local consultant, Counter Fraud Centre who have worked assiduously and extensively to develop these historic tools, the Central Database on recovered asset and the Central Criminal Justice Information System under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 and the National Anti-Corruption Strategy respectively to assist in the fight against corruption.
He remarked that the Central database for asset recovery “is a product of our commitments, as a Government towards the fight against corruption with particular reference to our membership of international organisations inclusive of financial action Task Force, open Government Partnership targeted at deepening transparency within this context of United Nations Convention Against Corruption. The Database that will be put in place will ensure uniformity of process and real time access and information feeding.
“It is to deepen our transparency and accountability. We have established that committement through inclusion of civil society organizations, in our fight against corruption, enrolled as members of Open Government Partnership, Establish Legal Framework that establish Anti-Corruption Agencies and we are now committed in deploying technology to deepen our transparency; that is what the Central Database we are launching here today is all about.”
He expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for the opportunity given him to serve under his cabinet to achieve this milestone.
We will, working together, establish and re-enact transparency and accountability in Governance and management of our resources which we have committed to do by way of strengthening International Cooperation of our membership of Open Government Partnership.
Abubakar Malami reassured stakeholders that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice under his watch is working on deploying the technology to every nook and corners of the Federation to enable the relevant stakeholders key into this 21st Century technology in Nigeria which guarantees transparency and ensures there is accountability on the part of public officers.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, the Rev David Ugolor in a goodwill message at the event reaffirmed ANEEJ’s commitment to continue to work with the Federal Ministry of Justice and ARMU in the task of transparent return of looted assets stashed in foreign jurisdictions and the accountable use of returned assets for development of Nigeria.
Rev David Ugolor commended the Attorney General and Minister of Justice for his commitment in the fight against corruption and for his re-presentation of the Proceeds of Crime Bill (POCA Bill) to the National Assembly, which according to him, will provide a robust legal framework for asset recovery and management in the country.
Ugolor called on the leadership and entire members of the National Assembly to expeditiously consider and pass the POCA Bill for presidential assent so as to address existing gaps in the task of asset recovery and management in the country.
ANEEJ supported the development and launch of the ARMU Central Database as part of activities implementation of the Monitoring Transparency and Accountability in use of Returned Assets (MANTRA) project being supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), formerly DFID under the Anti-Corruption (ACORN) Programme.
ANEEJ and its 8 partners are currently monitoring $322.5million Abacha II returned from Switzerland, and $311.9million Abacha III loot returned from Jersey and U.S.A. ANEEJ and its partners had monitored $500million Abacha 1 in 2004/2005. They are also set to monitor use of 5million Euros Abacha IV being returned from Ireland, Chief James Ibori loot from the United Kingdom and the Diepriye Alamiyeseigha $900,000 loot to be returned from the United States of America.