Accountant-General’s ‘False’ Claim On Status Of Ibori Loot Is A Jailable Offence


Editors Note; By Bolanle Olabimtan Originally published in TheCable

Since the United Kingdom committed to returning the £4.2 million loot recovered from James Ibori, former governor of Delta state, and his associates, there has been a lot of controversy around who the money rightly belongs to.

Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), had said the recovered loot will be used to fund three infrastructural projects — Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kano expressways, as well as the second Niger bridge.

Although the Delta government had noted that the money ought to be returned to the state, the AGF had said the law which Ibori breached is a federal law, and not that of the state.

Stakeholders, including Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, and Itse Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), also insisted that the funds should be returned to Delta state.

Abdulrasheed Bawa, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had also said it is the position of the law that recovered assets should be returned to the victims it was looted from.

Announcing the repatriation of the money, Umar Gwandu, special assistant on media to Malami, had on May 18 said the money was paid into the designated federal government account in naira.

Ahmed Idris, accountant-general of the federation, on Tuesday, noted that the funds had been returned to the Delta state government.

“It was paid to the state. To Delta state. It was paid to Delta state,” Idris said while appearing before the senate committee investigating the status of recovered loot.

“Any recovery arising from looted funds from a particular state goes to the state. State governors will not even allow it to fly. They will take the federal government to court. We pay them their money.”

But the accountant-general recanted his claim after Lauretta Onochie, media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, said the funds cannot be returned to the state because it would be breaching the terms and conditions on which the repatriation was done.

“For now, no money has been returned to Delta state. This is the true position as regards the £4.2m Ibori loot. The issue of the £4.2m Ibori loot has not been properly resolved,” Idris said in a statement signed by Henshaw Ogubike, his spokesperson.

LEGAL IMPLICATION OF MAKING FALSE CLAIM UNDER OATH

It is customary to administer oath on witnesses who come before the legislative house to give information, and TheCable can confirm that Idris was examined under oath.

Section 7 of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act stipulates that: “A committee of a legislative house, if authorised by standing orders or resolution of that House to send for persons, papers and records, may require that any facts, matters and things relating to the subject of inquiry before such committee be verified or ascertained by the oral examination of witnesses, and may cause any such witnesses to be examined on oath, which the chairman of the committee or the Clerk thereof is hereby authorised to administer.”

Section 10 provides the consequences of giving false evidence.

“Any person who before a committee of a legislative house knowingly gives a false answer to any question material to the subject of the inquiry of the committee which may be put to him during the course of his examination shall- (a) if the answer was given on oath, be deemed to be guilty of an offence against section 117 of the Criminal Code and shall be liable on conviction to the punishment therefore prescribed by that Code…”

According to section 117 of the Criminal Code, the accountant-general may be guilty of perjury.

The section reads: “Any person who, in any judicial proceeding, or for the purpose of instituting any judicial proceeding, knowingly gives false testimony touching any matter which is material to any question then depending in that proceeding, or intended to be raised in that proceeding, is guilty of an offence, which is called perjury.”

Section 118 of the Criminal Code states that: “Any person who commits perjury is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years. If the offender commits the offence in order to procure the conviction of another person for an offence punishable with death or with imprisonment for life, he is liable to imprisonment for life.”

But given that he has recanted his previous claim, will the accountant-general be spared of facing the consequence of making a false claim under oath?

The post Accountant-General’s ‘False’ Claim On Status Of Ibori Loot Is A Jailable Offence appeared first on TheNigeriaLawyer.



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