Abubakar Malami, Minister for Justice and Attorney General of the Federation

Nigeria’s House of Representatives has summoned the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami and new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to come forward and explain the circumstances surrounding the transfer of some forfeited assets to the AGF’s office.

Also to appear before an ad hoc committee of the House set up to compile and review projects and fixed assets belonging to the Federal Government across the country is Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello.

The Chairman of the committee, Ademorin Kuye, noted that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice and Solicitor-General of the Federation was supposed to appear before the lawmakers in company with some directors on Thursday but did not show up.

The acting Director of Asset Forfeiture and Recovery Management, EFCC, Mr Aliyu Yusuf, appeared before the committee but the lawmakers expressed their displeasure with the information provided.

He said while forfeited assets had been transferred to the OAGF, operatives of the commission still guarded the properties.

Yusuf, while responding to some of the questions from the lawmakers, said, “The EFCC has not really undertaken any serious disposal of assets. The only asset that was disposed of was the trucks, which were seized in Port Harcourt (Rivers State capital).

“All the finally forfeited assets – real estate – were all intact until this new regulation came into effect, which was made by the Honourable Attorney-General that requires us to transfer all forfeited assets to the Office of the AGF for management. That regulation was made in October 2019 and we have complied with that; we have forwarded the lists and court orders for all finally forfeited assets to the Office of the AGF for management.”

Yusuf also noted that President Muhammadu Buhari set up an inter-ministerial committee on disposal of forfeited assets with a six-month timeframe and had been meeting to complete the assignment.

He nonetheless, faulted the regulation introduced by Malami, saying it breached Section 31 of the EFCC Act, particularly Sub-sections 1 and 4.

Yusuf, however, said what he meant by ‘not seriously disposed’ was that there are forfeitures, including real estate and vessels, and it was expected that the assets would be disposed of.

Chairman of the committee, while expressing his dissatisfaction with the development, decried that the assets were losing value.

A member of the committee, Lynda Ikpeazu, demanded the list of assets already transferred to the AGF’s office as well as the timeline of those transfers.

The House had on March 17, 2020, constituted the committee with the mandate to investigate the status, use and current state of all Federal Government properties in all parts of the country.