Condemns the government?s attitude towards recovery of stolen assets

Business24

The Socio-Economic Rights and of Accountability Project (SERAP), on Tuesday, called on the Federal Government to begin efforts to retrieve the money looted by the former Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, from the United States Government.

The call was contained in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke (SAN).

In it, the organisation urged the federal government to urgently solicit from the US government, repatriation of forfeited assets worth about $401,931 belonging to Alamieyeseigha, who had been convicted in Nigeria for money laundering and unjust enrichment while in office.

The letter, which was signed by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, further stated that: ?On June 28 2012, the US Department of Justice obtained the first forfeiture judgment ever issued under the new Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative against Mr Alamieyeseigha. The initiative is designed to target and recover the proceeds of foreign official corruption that have been laundered into or through the United States.?

SERAP added that, ?The Nigerian government has not yet made a request for the repatriation of the stolen wealth. The failure to repatriate the recovered assets illustrates the government?s attitude to recovery of stolen assets.?

The group further revealed that Nigeria, as a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, has a legal obligation to request for mutual legal assistance from the US towards the return of the assets, especially as the Convention describes asset recovery as its fundamental principle, and requires state parties to cooperate and assist one another in this regard.

?SERAP?s US Volunteer Counsel, Professor Alexander W. Sierck, is in high level discussion with US officials on the matter, but without the Nigerian government taking the initiative, the process will not go far,? it disclosed.

SERAP noted that the development would enhance the fight against corruption as well as serve as deterrent to people with corrupt tendencies.

?The repatriation of the assets and other stolen wealth will also enhance the ability of the government to provide basic necessities of life such as healthcare, water, and electricity to millions of Nigerians who continue to face extreme poverty and misery,? the letter stated.

SERAP also urged the government to ?use the repatriated assets to set up a trust fund for the benefit of the millions of vulnerable and disadvantaged Nigerians who were the victims of high level corruption.”

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