#NBA2018AGC: Stakeholders Seek More Efficient Ways to Repatriate Nigeria’s Stolen Monies

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Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN
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#NBA2018AGC: Stakeholders Seek More Efficient Ways to Repatriate Nigeria’s Stolen Monies

It is no secret that most of Nigeria’s stolen money is stashed outside the shores of the country, in secret or numbered bank accounts in European and Asian banks as well as in offshore accounts in places like the Cayman Islands, etc. And getting the money out of Nigeria is the easy part. Getting it back, even when all proof of its provenance has been provided, is like trying to get a camel to pass through the eye of the proverbial needle.

Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN

But as many authorities whose most corrupt citizens have shipped assets abroad have come to discover, difficulty does not automatically translate to impossibility, as many nations have been able to secure some stolen funds. In recent years, Nigeria’s pursuit of the so-called Abacha loot (funds allegedly siphoned from the nation’s coffers by the late head of state, Gen. Sani Abacha) from European and American depositories has yielded appreciable – albeit sporadic – results.

The quest to structure such repatriations was the theme of one of the breakout sessions during the ongoing Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja.

Perhaps due to the fact that most of these stolen assets are domiciled in Great Britain, it was seemed only appropriate that the lead speaker at this special session, which was chaired by Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, the chairman of the independent corrupt practices commission (ICPC) and tagged, “Asset Tracing & Recovery,” should be a British lawyer named Philip Hackett.

In his presentation, Hackett attempted to answer the following question: Has UK regulatory action resulted in Nigerian recoveries? He took the assembled delegates through the various frameworks and measures by which the British authorities are tracking and helping release stolen monies, as well as what injured parties  can do on their own to recover their stolen assets.

NEWSWIRE’s correspondent at the session reports that one of the panelists, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, queried the Nigerian federal government’s handling of recovered monies, accusing it of opaqueness and attempts to cover up the very corruption against which the present administration purports to be fighting.

In particular, Ozekhome wanted to know the present whereabouts and destinations of monies allegedly found in places such as cemeteries, high-rise buildings, airports, stationary vehicles, private residences, etc.

Responding to Ozekhome’s questions, the session chair, Prof. Owasanoye informed him of the various mechanisms to maximize the use of the monies. He listed these measures to include conditional cash transfer, the asset recovery account in the central bank and the treasury single account, etc.

Also speaking, the former president of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) Mrs. Ayo Obe, decried the negative impact of the political back-and-forth about who is more corrupt than the other between the major political players in the country, on the poor and the weak in this society.

The session also featured a representative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the business community.

Other simultaneous breakout sessions examined equally topical issues such as the following:

  • EMERGENCE OF DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY IN LEGAL EDUCATION & LEGAL PRACTICE (which featured contributions from Layi Babatunde, SAN of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; Ms. Funlola Odeleye, Co-Founder, DIY Law; Emeka Oscar Albert, Editor-in-Chief, Legalpedia; Theodore Maiyaki, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Abuja; RotomiOgunyemi, ICT Expert / Partner, Bayo Ogunyemi & Co. and Ayo Quadri, Executive Director, Funmi Quadri & Co.)
  • DISRUPTION, CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION (Lead Speaker: David Richman)

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