Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has expressed total lack of trust in the ability of a committee supervised by the Attorney General of the Federation; Abubakar Malami in disposing the recovered properties suspected to be from proceeds of crime in a transparent and accountable manner.
The Rights group expressed this concern in a statement issued in response to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami’s justification of his plan to constitute a 22-member inter-ministerial committee for the disposal of assets forfeited to the Federal Government.
HURIWA said the committee is simply a creation of a contraption whereby sycophants and politicians of the All Progressives Congress are given the space to fill their pockets with filthy lucre.
The Rights group also expressed strong doubts that the money to be recouped from the sales of those forfeited assets will be appropriately channelled to strategic national projects to give the largest benefits to the greatest number of the Nigerian citizens
The statement, which was jointly signed by the National Coordinator; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director; Miss Zainab Yusuf, condemned what it described as the inordinate interest of the AGF to supervise the sale of these items, adding that ta Committee Supervised by the AGF cannot be trusted to do the right thing since the AGF is an interested party in the power struggle in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission involving Ibrahim Magu, the suspended Acting Chairman of EFCC.
Affirming that the best way for government to derive any sort of benefit is for the Federal Executive Council to publish the identities of the houses and the convicted thieves from whom the houses were retrieved, HURIWA tasked government to comply with the Public Procurement Act.
The process, according to HURIWA should include widely circulated advertisements of the properties with details that clearly and easily identify each property, and that the advertisement would call for bids.
“The best way is to first, publish the properties to be sold in national dailies by way of advertorial. The government should buy space in about six national newspapers with sensitivity to different areas of the country.
“It should publish the entire properties to be sold and also the total sum in different currencies so far recovered. And if any part of the money has been used, who gave the authority to do so? Was it budgeted for, was it appropriated by the National Assembly or the government simply dipped its hand in the treasury and used it?
More so, on the selling of forfeited properties, HURIWA added; “In the absence of confidentiality of record, the government should publish details of those from whom those assets are recovered from, and also give adequate time for people to value them before making offer, or selling them. An open policy should be used in disposing them.
Continuing, the leading pro-democracy group advocated that the Government should keep 30 percent of the seized assets for use by government offices that operate from rented apartment just as it said that 10 percent of those assets should be turned into 4 bedrooms apartments to be given to families of soldiers and police who lost their lives waving war on terror.
HURIWA further counseled government to engage professionals with wide knowledge, experience, relevant documents and long term experience as stipulated by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to handle the sale of the remaining 60 percent of the recovered assets by open and competitive bidding, to ensure transparency and accountability in the process because there are technicalities involved.
“The remaining 60 percent to be sold should not be done by any committee to be supervised by the minister of justice but rather the auctioning should be done by officially accredited auctioneers of Nigerian origin with proven records of credibility and totally free of any criminal convictions.
“Besides, the auctioneers can generate more revenue from the highest bidders whom they will invite from far and near because their role would be to protect the image of government and the interest of the general public to avoid litigation.
“A lot of things must be considered because of the technicalities involved in the auctioneering business, care must be taken in engaging any person for the disposal of the recovered and forfeited assets”
HURIWA charged the government to let Nigerians know what it intends to use the proceeds for. While recommending for the proceeds go to National Revenue Fund to be distributed under Section 162 of the constitution, to the three tiers of government; otherwise the money to be derived from the sales should be invested in constructing housing facilities and faculties of six federal universities spread amongst the six geopolitical zones dedicated to improving the standards of housing assets of federal public universities.