By Emma Amaize, ASABA
AN assemblage, Fix Delta Initiative, FDI, has said the fact that Delta State Government insisted its money was not missing in the past for a palpable reason, did not mean that the state cannot lay claim to the £4.2 million sent back by the British government.
The group in a statement by Davis Vwede Okpubuluku, asserted: “Those insinuating that the state cannot lay claim to this present £4.2 million as a result of denial made in the past as to the real owner of the money are wrong.”
“As an international matter, it is the case of a country to enter into a legal pursuit on behalf of constituent states, which is Cross River, Adamawa and others did not approach the International Court at Hague in the case against Cameron that led to Nigeria losing Bakassi Peninsula, rather the Federal Government did.
“And when the judgment was passed, Nigeria lost at the Cameron axis and gained at the Adamawa end. The Federal Government never took possession of those gained areas, rather the states in question did.
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“Also, a precedent was set in similar cases involving Joshua Dariye of Plateau state and the late Diepriye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa state. The repatriated money from corruption proceeds of those two states was given to the states and there was also a Supreme Court ruling that the Federal Government cannot lay claim of either local government or state funds, leading to the remittance of Lagos state’s withheld money held by the federal government.
“So why will Delta state money be taken by the federal government? International treaties were entered into by nations to enable them to settle matters of mutual agreements. Nigeria entered into lots of it with a great number of these nations, through the United Nations (UN).
“It was on this premise that Dubai repatriated the former governor to the UK for trial, which gave birth to the current development. Worthy to mention is the treaty entered into by the Nigeria government and the UK that whenever stolen money was to be repatriated back, it has to be taken to the source
“The repatriated £4.2 million looted money belong to Delta state. We have listened and watched with keen interest, arguments for and against where the money above should be taken to. The Federal Government through the Attorney General of the Federation set the ball rolling when he concluded on the national network news that the federal government will take possession of the said money and went further to give a breakdown of federal projects that will be funded with it.
“Not one of those projects is sited in Delta state with the money, which background is that a former governor of Delta state was accused to have laundered money to the United Kingdom (UK). The money was specifically traced to proceed of funds from Delta State account and he pleaded guilty to the charges levelled against him.
“The whole issues, which became a subject of judicial litigation came to a conclusion with the court asking the UK Government to repatriate the money to Nigeria.
“In the course of the whole trial, the money was always referred to as ‘money looted from Delta state treasury.’ Outside this case at hand, there was a case of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, a former chairman of the EFCC that a former governor of the state tried to bribe him of some amount of money ($15m or thereabout). The then government of the state was said to have approached a Federal High Court that the state’s money was not missing.
“Now those two cases are different, so there is no point messing it up with the current case at hand. And it has no locus standing to rob on this present matter,” the group stated.