Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), acted in compliance with the extant laws, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Establishment Act 2004, in setting up the recently inaugurated Inter-Ministerial Asset Disposal Committee, one of his aides has said.
Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to the minister, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, in a statement yesterday, said the action of the minister was justified, going by the provisions of the EFCC Act.
“Community reading of the provisions of Section 31(1-4) and Sections 43 of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004 will not only justify the action of the minister but also clear doubts on the misconceived and shallow legal analysis in the public space on the legality or otherwise of the committee,” he said.
The statement described as faulty the assumption that only the EFCC is engaged in asset recovery and forfeiture proceedings. According to Gwandu, in issuing regulations and setting-up committee for asset disposal, Malami was guided, amongst other statutory provisions, by the wordings of Sections 31(4) & 43 of the EFCC Act, which confer the AGF with the powers to make rules or regulations with respect to the exercise of any of the duties, functions or powers of the EFCC (inclusive of asset disposal).
The aide said: “For the avoidance of doubt, Section 43 of the EFFC Act provides thus: ‘The AGF may make rules or regulations with respect to the exercise of any of the duties, functions or powers of the commission under this Act.’
“It is elementary law that the process of asset forfeiture and disposal constitutes part and parcel of criminal prosecution. It is also trite law that all prosecuting agencies derive their powers to prosecute from that of the constitutional and statutory powers of the AGF.
“The powers of the EFCC are constitutionally subject to the overriding powers of the AGF. It is important to note that asset forfeiture and disposal is a continuation of criminal proceedings and in furtherance of the powers conferred on the AGF under Section 150(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, Section 174(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) grants him the exclusive power ‘to take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been instituted by any other authority or person.”