A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, yesterday asked the federal government to reject the conditions the government of Switzerland attached to the repatriation of $321 million stolen by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
He rejected the conditions attached to the repatriation of the stolen $321 million in a letter he addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, referring to a statement credited to the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Eric Mayoraz, that Switzerland “will soon return $321m of Abacha loot to Nigeria”.
In his letter, Falana said the conditions imposed on Nigeria that allowed the World Bank “to supervise the spending of returned assets by the Nigerian government breaches international law principles and standards”.
He cited Article 57 of the UN Convention against Corruption requiring state parties “to return assets on the basis of a final judgment in the requesting state party. But in circumstances where there is no final judgment, Article 57 allows for assets to be returned on the basis of agreements or mutually acceptable arrangements, on a case-by-case basis, for the final disposal of confiscated property”.
He said the government of Switzerland breached the clear provisions of Article 57. He added that the imposition of any conditions on the Nigerian government “is a flagrant violation of the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention founded in Article 2 of the United Nations Charter”.
“Imposing conditions on Nigeria regarding the spending of returned assets is disproportionate and amounts to an unlawful intervention because Switzerland has no legal or moral right to the assets. Indeed, Switzerland is completely complicit for the stashing and depositing of stolen assets from Nigeria in its banks and other financial institutions,” he stated.
Falana expressed concern that the World Bank itself had not demonstrated sufficient level of transparency and accountability in its supervision of spending of previously returned Abacha loot.
He added that the World Bank had so far refused to satisfactorily disclose information on the spending of recovered Abacha loot requested by Nigerian anticorruption NGO Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
He explained that the World Bank “has been unable or unwilling to consistently apply its own Access to Information Policy to disclose key information to civil society groups and other stakeholders. In the SERAP case, the World Bank failed and/or neglected to provide several portions of the information requested on the spending of recovered Abacha loot managed by the Bank.
“Although the Bank’s Access to Information Policy recognises the right to an appeals process when a request for information in the World Bank’s possession is improperly or unreasonably denied, the appeal lodged by SERAP has been unreasonably and unduly delayed”.
He lamented the empty promises made so far by Switzerland and the United States “to return forfeited assets worth over $800 million. It is clear that the Western countries will continue to frustrate the repatriation of the looted wealth of the nation being warehoused by them, albeit illegally”.
He, however, urged the Buhari administration to consider legal option if the government of Switzerland refuses “to return the said sum of $321 million without any conditionality, the federal government should not hesitate to initiate legal proceedings for the recovery of the asset.
“In the proposed suit, Nigeria should claim punitive and exemplary damages and interests from Switzerland for keeping the loot for over 20 years. Finally, the federal government is urged to collaborate with relevant civil society organisations to mount a campaign locally and internationally to ensure full compliance by Switzerland, the United States and other Western countries to international law principles of accountability, proportionality, sovereignty, equality, fairness and non-interference”.
President Muhammadu Buhari Appoints New Service Chiefs as Buratai, Others Resign
President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed new service chiefs in an effort to bring the growing insecurities in Nigeria to an end.
The appointed service chiefs are Major-General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff.
Femi Adesina, a presidential spokesman, stated in a statement issued on Tuesday.
According to him, the appointment was after Buratai and other service chiefs resigned and immediately retired from service.
The resigned and retired service chief were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
President Buhari thanked the outgone service chiefs for their dedication and commitment towards securing and protecting the lives of Nigerians.
University Of Ibadan (UI) Goes Digital, Releases Timetable for Virtual Academic Session
University of Ibadan (UI) on Friday announced it is going ahead with resumption on February 20 despite the second wave of COVID-19.
In a statement released by the school, the First Semester of the 2020/2021 academic session will commence virtually on February 20, 2021.
The virtual academic session will last for 13 straight weeks and end on Friday May 12, 2021, while the matriculation ceremony will hold on Tuesday March 16, 2021.
The University of Ibadan also scheduled one week for the Finalization of Continuous Assessment, to begin from Mon. 17 May and ends Friday 21 May.
The rising number of COVID-19 cases has compelled the Senate to approve the virtual academic session in an effort to ensure the tertiary institution abides by the protocols established by the Federal Government to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“It, therefore, agreed that the 2020/2021 First Semester lectures will be delivered online. In this regard, students will not be accommodated on campus,” a statement from the school said.
“Senate also approved the cancellation of the 2019/2020 session. The next session is, therefore, renamed 2020/2021 Academic Session. Consequently, students who have been admitted for the 2019/2020 session will now be regarded as the 2020/2021 intakes.
“Kindly note that online opening of Registration Portal and Orientation Programme for the 2020/2021 intakes may commence ahead of the Sat 20/02/21 date indicated above,” the statement said.
House of Representatives Impeached Trump Over Capitol Invasion
The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for the second time after instigating the US Capitol invasion.
Led by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, 232 representatives, including 10 Republicans, voted to impeach the outgoing president against 197 that voted for him to remain in the office for the next six days when he would handover to the president-elect, Joe Biden.
The ten Republicans were Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the party’s No. 3 leader in the House; Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington; John Katko of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Fred Upton of Michigan; Dan Newhouse of Washington; Peter Meijer of Michigan; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; David Valadao of California; and Tom Rice of South Carolina.
Speaking before the vote, Pelosi said “a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the Republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together.”
“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said, adding later, “It gives me no pleasure to say this — it breaks my heart.”
Republicans, who unanimously stood behind president Trump in 2019 during his first impeachment, were divided this time over the attack on Capitol.
A Republican representative from California, Kevin McCarthy, said “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” Mr. McCarthy said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
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