The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on Sunday, says it only pays whistleblowers after successful recovery not for mere tracing or exposure of suspected illegitimate funds.
This is contained in a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice which was made available to newsmen in Abuja on Sunday 28th of June, 2020.
The Minister was reacting to a story published by the The Punch newspaper on a pretext of a letter allegedly by one Aliyu Lemu, Esq. purportedly written on June 22nd, 2020 on issues revolving around payment of a whistle-blower’s fees.
The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice wants to make it categorically clear that one does not get payment on account of exposing looted assets, but on successful recovery and lodgment of same into the designated assets recovery account at the Central Bank of Nigeria. The procedure for engagement
of a whistleblower or recovery agent as it relates to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation is as follows:
- A Proposal is submitted to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation
- A Letter of engagement is issued to a whistle-blower of recovery agent where the disclosure is assed to have some prospects of success,
- The recovery agent or whistle-blower is expected to notify in
writing the acceptance of the engagement,
- The recovery agent or whistle blower is expected, upon
acceptance, to not only trace the assets but recover same and have it
deposited in a designated asset recovery account maintained by the
Federal Government of Nigeria in the Central Bank which is usually
provided to the recovery agent in writing.,
- Where these funds are eventually claimed to have been lodged by a whistle-blower or recovery agent, the Central Bank issue acknowledgement of receipt of the fund to the Office of
Attorney-General on demand,
It is the satisfaction of the above elements that entitles the
whistle-blower or a recovery agent to a claim of success fee and the
payment is usually effected by the Federal Ministry of Finance and not
the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation. The role of the
Office of the Attorney-General in essence is simply that of processing
the above listed documents to the Ministry of Finance which is the
Ministry saddled with the responsibility of effecting payment,
Malami explained further that recovery is not about exposing the
existence of certain assets in an account purported to have belonged
to an agency of the government. it is about establishing that the
funds in the account are looted assets or illegitimately warehoused
and following that up with actual recovery and lodgment of the funds
in the designated Asset recovery account through judicial and extra
Entitlement to recovery fees is for all intent and purposes contingent
on lodgment of the purported/exposed assets constituting the subject
of recovery into the Federal Government Recovery designated Account
maintained at the instance of the President at the Central Bank of
Nigeria and the details of the account are contained in the engagement
letter. A clause in the letter reads:
“The agreed remuneration shall become due and payable to the
whistle-blower within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the
recovered/looted funds by the Federal Government of Nigeria and
payment shall be made the designated/nominated account provided in
writing by the whistle-blower”.
Malami encouraged that if the whistle blower in the circumstances of
this case feels strongly that there is any claim of wrong doing associated with the alleged claim relating to recovery process, the whistle-blower should consider lodging a complaint with the relevant institutions of his choice for the matter to be properly investigated
and or consider a judicial redress in the alternative.
The claim by the whistle-blower, as published by the paper, that the
Office of the Attorney-General of the Federal cajoled them into
signing of an agreement forfeiting sixty percent of the whistle-blower
fees amounts to criminal allegation which the whistle-blower is
encouraged to lodge complaint before the appropriate law enforcement
agencies for full-scale investigation.