Court nullifies Malami’s sale of forfeited assets

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has nullified the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019, for being “an invalid statutory instrument.”

All sales and disposals of assets made by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, under the regulations were also nullified by the court.

It held that the regulations were “ultra vires the office and powers” of the AGF.

The order was made by Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa following a suit FHC/L/CS/40/2021 filed by the plaintiff, Incorporated Trustees of HEDA Resource Centre.

Malami had in November 2020 set up an inter-ministerial committee for the disposal of forfeited assets, following a directive by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) in October 2018.

The AGF’s power to set up the committee was challenged by HEDA, through its counsel, Omotayo Olatubosun, who argued that the regulations conflicted with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administrative Act, 2015, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, 2004 and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act, 2000, among others, on the matter of disposal of final forfeited assets.

The AGF’s preliminary objection argued by its counsel, Tolu Mokunolu, was dismissed by the Court which granted the nine reliefs sought by the plaintiff.

Justice Lewis-Allagoa held, “I am entirely in agreement with the submission of counsels to the plaintiff that the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 are contrary to the statutory provisions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC Act, Trafficking in Persons Cohabitation Enforcement and Administration Act, NDLEA Act and Immigration Act.

The plaintiff’s reliefs granted by the judge include a declaration that by the ICPC Act, the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 “is an invalid statutory instrument the former having conferred no power arrogated by the Defendant to himself in the latter Regulations;

“An Order nullifying the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 as an invalid statutory instrument same being in excess of the provisions of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act, 2000;

“An Order nullifying all sales and disposals of assets made by the Defendant pursuant to the said Asset Tracing, Recovery, and Management Regulations, 2019 same being ultra vires the office and powers of the Defendant.”

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