The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, said on Wednesday the loot recovered from ex-Delta State Governor, James Ibori, belongs to the state and not the Federal Government.
The United Kingdom government and its Nigerian counterpart had on Tuesday agreed on the repatriation of about £4.2 million recovered from the ex-governor who was convicted for money laundering by a British court and jailed 13 years in 2012.
In a statement he personally signed, Falana faulted Federal Government’s plan to use the repatriated funds to construct Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano railway and other federal projects.
He also disagreed with the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on why the money could not be given to Delta State.
Malami had said one of the reasons the recovered loot could not be given to the state was because the conditions stipulated that the funds should be used for certain projects.
He said the agreement was also backed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
However, Falana insisted that the MoU signed by the two countries cannot supersede the constitution which has prohibited any form of discrimination in the country.
He said: “The £4.2m does not belong to the Federal Government. The money confiscated from Governor Joshua Dariye in the United Kingdom was recovered by the Federal Government, repatriated to Nigeria and returned to the Plateau State government.
“The money confiscated from Governor Diepreye Alamieyesigha in the United Kingdom was recovered by the Federal Government, repatriated to Nigeria and remitted to the account of Bayelsa State government.
“Since what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, the sum of £4.2 million confiscated from Governor James Ibori in the UK and recovered by the Federal Government has to be remitted to the account of the Delta State government.
“The memorandum of understanding signed by the representatives of the British government and the Federal Government cannot supersede the constitution which has prohibited any form of discrimination in the country.
“In other words, by virtue of Section 42 of the constitution the governments and people of Plateau, Bayelsa, and Delta States are entitled to equal rights and opportunities.
“Interestingly, some concerned citizens of Delta State have decided to join issues with the Federal Government. Otherwise, another sum of $20m which will soon be recovered and repatriated from the confiscated fund will also be claimed by the Federal Government on very shaky legal grounds.”
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