- Says Returned £4.2m Loot: I Don’t See Nigeria Deviating From The Agreement Signed
Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, says the resolve to ban open grazing by southern governors is equivalent to prohibiting spare parts trading in the north.
Last Tuesday, southern governors resolved to ban open grazing and the movement of cattle by foot, after a meeting in Asaba, Delta state.
The resolutions of the southern governors have been greeted with mixed reactions from different parts of the country.
Speaking on the development on Wednesday in an interview on Channels Television, Malami faulted the decision of the southern governors, saying it does not align with the provisions of the constitution.
He said, “It’s about constitutionality. Within the context of the freedoms enshrined in our constitution, can you deny a right of a Nigerian?
“For example, it’s as good as saying the northern governors coming together to say they forbid spare parts trading in the north. Does it hold water?”
The AGF said the announcement by the southern governors does not hold water, and that they should seek to amend the constitution instead.
The minister said the governors must approach the National Assembly and get the necessary support to amend the constitution before they can take such a huge action on constitutionally-backed liberties.
“It is indeed a dangerous position for any governor in Nigeria to think that he can bring about any compromise to the freedom and liberty of individuals to move around,” he said.
Malami also poured scorn on the calls by governors for the restructuring of the country, an exercise expected to devolve a lot of powers from the Federal Government to the subnational governments.
The AGF said the governors need to put their own houses in order first, and ensure the functionality of the local government system which he accused them of suppressing despite being a tier of government itself.
The southern governors had last week said Nigeria’s progress requires urgent and bold steps to restructure the country to practice true federalism.
They demanded state police, a review of revenue allocation formula, and creation of other institutions to give more power to sub-national governments.
Malami, Also reiterated that the Federal Government has concluded plans on projects the repatriated £4.2million loot would be used for.
The Justice Minister explained that international commitment between the United Kingdom and Nigeria has been made on how the fund would be spent.
According to Malami: “International commitment has been given by Nigeria to the United Kingdom as it relates to the process of engagement, inbuilt transparency and accountability associated with the process. The way international processes operate with particular regard to recovering of looted assets is more honest among the nations of interest.
“Between Nigeria and the UK, it is a process that does not allow the application of hook, line, and sinker of the Nigerian law exclusively but is a process that factors mutual consideration among the party of interest and that mutual engagement gave rise to what we had as an agreement signed by Nigeria and the UK.
“There is an understanding that key project existing in the State; Abuja-Kano highway, Lagos-Ibadan expressway, and the 2nd Niger bridge should be considered for the purpose of the deployment of the resources with a view to ensure that key infrastructural development projects that affect the entire nation be the utmost beneficiary of these funds”.
Asked on reconsidering Delta State, he said: “The recovery is a function of mutual agreement. And mutual agreement as agreed between two nations.
So is not agreement exclusively within the powers of the federal government to revisit without recourse to the United Kingdom from which country the funds were recovered against the background of the sanctity of an agreement.
It is difficult with the limitation of the sanctity of an agreement within the limited consideration of international diplomacy to bring in new consideration after the old process has been consummated.
As it is, the issue that bothers on £4.2million has been signed, sealed, delivered and Nigeria does not stand to revisit the same after the repatriation.” Malami maintained.
(This story contains information from Channels TV)