The court nullified all sales and disposals of assets made by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Sale of all recovered assets by Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has been ruled as illegal.
Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of the Federal High Court, Lagos on Monday nullified the Assets Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019, saying it is “an invalid statutory instrument.”
The court also nullified all sales and disposals of assets made by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), under the regulations because they “ultra vires the office and powers” of the AGF.
The court handed down the order on Monday in a suit filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre. The AGF was the sole defendant.
The judge said, “It is pertinent to state that the powers of the Attorney-General of the Federation do not override the provisions of the enabling statutes stabilising the powers of the law enforcement agencies and anti-corruption agencies and consequently the powers referred to in the commencement clause of the regulations merely are to be exercised in accordance with the act not to usurp the mandatory powers vested in the law enforcement agencies and the anti-corruption agencies.
“I am therefore in agreement with counsel for the plaintiff that the executive orders or any other forms of definition can be issued pursuant to Session 315 of the constitution. However, they are limited to enactments predating the 1999 Constitution.
“The acts under consideration in this instant suit were enacted after the 1999 Constitution and do not fall within the ambit of Sections 315 of the 1999 Constitution.”
The AGF, had on November 9, 2020, inaugurated the inter-ministerial committee on the disposal of assets forfeited to the federal government.
This, according to the minister, was in accordance with the president’s directive in October, 2018, following recommendations of the Presidential Audit Committee on Recovery and Management of Stolen Assets and a need for efficient management of the assets.
But HEDA, through its counsel, Omotayo Olatubosun, challenged the AGF’s power to set up the committee.
It argued that the regulations conflicted with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act; Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administrative Act 2015; National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act 2004; Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Act 2000, among others, on the matter of disposal of forfeited assets.