Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, has explained why the loot recovered from James Ibori, former governor of Delta, should go to the federal government and not the state.
The United Kingdom has made a commitment to return £4.2 million loot recovered from Ibori to the federal government.
Catriona Laing, British high commissioner to Nigeria, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to that effect with Malami in Abuja on Tuesday.
Speaking when he featured on a Channels Television programme on Tuesday, Malami said the law which Ibori breached is a federal law, and not that of Delta state.
“The major consideration to who is entitled to a fraction or perhaps the money in its entirety is a function of law and international diplomacy, among others,” he said.
“It is a function of law, in the sense that the law in contention that was alleged to have been breached is a federal law. That is the starting point.
“In dealing with international community and international diplomacy, the parties of interest are the state parties (referring to sovereign countries), and not sub-national governments that are involved.”
Malami also insisted that the federal government is the “victim”, adding that Delta state was not involved in the recovery of the funds.
“With those backgrounds in mind, all the processes associated with the recovery are processes consummated by the federal government. The federal government is indeed the victim of crime and not sub-national,” he said.
“The law is a federal law that was alleged to have been breached, and then, the parties are nationals and not sub-nationals — the UK government where the money was eventually looted to, and then the Nigerian government that had pursued the recovery of such money.
“Whether Delta state government will benefit from it or not, is a function of local law, but certainly, the agreement as consummated for the parties is for the benefit of the Nigerian state as a victim of crime, and not the Delta state government as sub-national.”