By VICTOR GAI
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has stated that the recovered $311 million from the Abacha administration was looted from the Federation Account and that if it was recovered, it had to return to the Federation Account.
Falana, while speaking on the program Politics Today on Channels TV, also said that the USA, where the monies were lodged, cannot dictate to Nigeria how to spend her money.
Earlier on in the program, the Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, had disclosed that the recovered money would be used to fund the second Niger bridge, the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, the Lagos-Ibadan road and the Mambilla power project.
He also revealed that stakeholders like the civil society, the National Assembly and so on, would be involved in the “monitoring and evaluation” of the projects that were agreed upon to be undertaken as part of the conditions for the release of the money by the US.
But reacting to that, Falana said, “the money cannot be used in funding the budget of the federal government alone…as far as the law is concerned, this money does not belong to the federal government, so it cannot be used by the federal government alone”.
According to Falana, “the USA has no right under our law to dictate to us how to spend our recovered money”.
He added: “It was insulting and embarrassing on the part of the Buhari administration to have accepted the insult.
“The federal government should have told the American government, “how dare you!” This money was stolen from our country, taken away and kept for twenty years. Nobody is talking of interest, nobody is talking of penalising the banks that kept the loot”.
According to him, what ever agreement was reached pertaining to the money must have to pass through legislation in Nigeria.
“Whatever agreement that was made abroad, any tripartite or bilateral agreement or treaty would have to be registered in Nigeria and enacted into law under Section 12 of the constitution.
“If you are not doing that, you must put the money back to where it was taken.
“If the federal government wants to use the money to fix some roads; so be it! That is good enough. But the federal government must be prepared to refund part of that money belonging to the State government and local government in accordance with the revenue allocation sharing formula”.
The fierce critic then gave the legal implication of the federal government’s decision on the use of the recovered money.
“If the federal government goes ahead to use the money, that would be against the provisions of the constitution because the federal government cannot spend any monies without appropriation. So you expect the federal government to have an appropriation because money has been budgeted for the Lagos-Ibadan road. If the road can no longer be funded, you now want to deploy other funds, there has to be appropriation”, he stressed.