By G9ija

Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister Abubkar Malami has justified his recent constitution of a 22-member inter-ministerial committee for the disposal of assets forfeited to the Federal Government.

Malami, in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, argued that those criticising his decision for constituting the committee and pursuant to President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive, merely exhibited ignorance of the law.

The statement by the AGF’s spokesman, Dr. Umar Gwndu, reads: “…Malami (SAN) acted in compliance with the extant laws, including the provisions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Establishment Act 2004 in setting up the recently inaugurated Inter-Ministerial Asset Disposal Committee.

“A community reading of the provisions of Section 31(1-4) and Section 43 of the EFFC 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.

“The lack of understanding of the law was imminent in the wrong impression being created which was fuelled by the faulty assumption that only the EFCC is engaged in asset recovery and forfeiture proceedings. Hence the challenge to the setting-up and mandate of the Committee.

“In issuing regulations and setting up a committee for asset disposal, the Attorney-General of the Federation was guided, amongst other statutory provisions, by the wordings of sections 31(4) & 43 of the EFCC Act, which confers the Attorney-General of the Federation 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).

“For the avoidance of doubt Section 43 of the EFFC Act provides thus: ‘The Attorney-General of the Federation 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 Attorney General of the Federation.”