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‘It’s illegal’… Falana opposes Saraki, Sanusi, Dangote on sale of national assets

‘It’s illegal’… Falana opposes Saraki, Sanusi, Dangote on sale of national assets
September 25
13:47 2016
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Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says recent interest in the country’s assets to pull out of economic recession is merely an attempt to concentrate the nation’s wealth in the hands of a few people.

The talk of selling national assets to move out of recession was one of the more dominant news items of last week, after the likes of Bukola Saraki, president of the senate, Aliko Dangote, business mogul; Godwin Emefiele, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, emir of Kano and former CBN governor; and state governors supported it.

However, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president; and George Akume, an All Progressives Congress (APC) senator form Benue state, are some of the prominent political figures opposed to the assets sale theory.

Falana is the latest to side with the latter group, arguing that selling the country’s assets is in “total conflict” with section 16 of the constitution.

In a statement he released on Sunday, Falana recalled how previous asset sales were marred by corruption and short-changing of the people, for whom the government holds those assets in trust.

He urged the federal government to recover the official quarters of the chief justice of Nigeria, senate president and speaker of the house of representatives, saying they were illegally sold to Katsina-Alu, David Mark and Dimeji Bankole respectively by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

He said whereas the government spent billions of naira to renovate the property, each of them was fraudulently sold for about N50 million, while many others in Abuja, Lagos and other cities were undersold to many public officers and their cronies.

“Apart from the recovery of the NET building in Lagos, which was sold to the father of a legislator for N4 billon instead of the market value of N75 billion, the sale of the other 531 properties of Nitel and other agencies of the federal government located in the various parts of the country has not been accounted for,” he said.

THE FULL STATEMENT

Under the pretext of offering solutions to the crisis plaguing the peripheral and parasitic capitalist economy of Nigeria, a business mogul, Alhaji Aliyu Dangote has suggested the sale of the remaining assets of the nation as a way of raising funds. The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, an unrepentant ideologue of currency devaluation and privatization has supported the call for the sale of the nation’s assets. Although Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki claimed that the senate has backed the sale of the national assets some senators have distanced themselves from the call. The assets being targeted for sale include valued properties, oil blocks and the interests of the Nigerian people in the liquified natural gas company.

It is pertinent to point out that the suggestion is in total conflict with section 16 of the Constitution which has prohibited the concentration of the nation’s wealth in the hands of a few people or a group. Indeed, by virtue of section 44 of the Constitution the nation’s natural resources shall be held in trust for the Nigerian people by the federal government. One would have expected senators who swore to protect the Constitution to kick against the suggestion to sell the assets of the nation to a few people. But for selfish considerations a few legislators who may be queuing up to participate in the purchase of the nation’s assets are not prepared to defend the Constitution. If the senate is genuinely desirous to contribute meaningfully to the debate on the economy it should, as a matter of urgency, propose a substantial reduction in the jumbo emoluments of federal legislators which are said to be the highest in the world

Under the David Mark-led Senate a panel was set up to investigate the privatization of the assets of the nation. The panel members found to their utter chagrin that majority of those to whom the nation’s resources were sold engaged in asset stripping to the detriment of the nation. The panel also confirmed that at the end of the privatization exercise the nation became poorer while the buyers have been smiling to the banks. In accepting the report of the panel the senators unanimously passed a resolution that a number of the assets be recovered by the federal government on the ground of fraud, asset stripping and economic sabotage. As some of the beneficiaries of the dubious privatization policy were then members of the economic team of the Jonathan administration they successfully frustrated the implementation of the patriotic resolution of the Senate. To the extent that the resolution has not been set aside the Buhari administration should implement it in the interest of the national economy.

Furthermore, the federal government should recover the official quarters of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives which were illegally sold to Justice Katsina-Alu (rtd), Senator David Mark and Mr. Dimeji Bankole respectively by the Jonathan administration. It is on record that whereas the federal government had spent billions of Naira to renovate the properties each of them was fraudulently sold for about N50 million. Many other properties of the federal government in Abuja, Lagos and other cities were undersold to many public officers and their cronies. Apart from the recovery of the NET building in Lagos which was sold to the father of a legislator for N4 billon instead of the market value of N75 billion the sale of the other 531 properties of Nitel and other agencies of the federal government located in the various parts of the country has not been accounted for.

While Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (as he then was) was the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) several intervention funds running to trillions of Naira were made available to the private sector. The commercial banks were also given a bailout fund of N600 billion by the CBN. Two years before then, CBN Governor Chukwuma Soludo had given $7 billion from our foreign reserves to the same banks. To save the banks from imminent collapse the toxic debts of trillions of Naira owed them by the captains of industry were taken over by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). As if that was not enough, the CBN approved the payment of N2.5 trillion to a cabal of fuel importers in 2011 in contravention of the Appropriation Act of that year which had earmarked N245 billion for fuel subsidy. Instead of demanding that the remaining assets of the nation be sold to the beneficiaries of intervention funds and fuel subsidy the Emir Sanusi should assist the AMCON and the anti graft agencies to ensure the liquidation of over N5 trillion the toxic debts and the recovery of huge funds given to banks and the private sector by the CBN.

Finally, for the umpteenth time, I am compelled to advise President Buhari to stop appealing to the conscience of the leaders of western countries to repatriate the nation’s looted wealth.
In spite of several promises the British government did not return any fund under former Prime Minister David Cameron. In the same vein, the outgoing Barrack Obama administration will not repatriate a dime to Nigeria. Since they have continued to benefit from the nation’s illicit funds kept in banks and tax heavens western governments are not going to let go without a serious legal challenge. The federal government should therefore set up a team of local and foreign lawyers to initiate legal proceedings in the appropriate jurisdictions for the recovery and repatriation of the nation’s looted wealth.

Femi Falana SAN

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2 Comments

  1. Correct Being
    Correct Being September 25, 14:43

    The federal government should therefore set up a team of local and foreign lawyers to initiate legal proceedings in the appropriate jurisdictions for the recovery and repatriation of the nation’s looted wealth. President Buhari should make FALANA the coordinator of the team else the foreign governments will end paying fractions of the recovered monies to the Federal Goverment while a bulk of the recovered funds will be assigned to their expenses. I am not saying that Falana and his team will work for free.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Agujiegbe
    Agujiegbe September 26, 03:27

    Your comment..Falana sir, May you days be blessed with joy and long life. Suggestions, if truly Buhari is out for total CHANGE START WITH ME. The door is open for proper probe and recovery of Nigerians properties in the hands of Criminals and enemies of Nigeria, called our past leaders, imagine the enumerated properties listed above in the hands of views and looters of national property of Nigeria citizens in the name of selfishness and greed. President Buhari Change action should go to action immediately, Our Legislators are working for their pockets and family. And I prayed they have re think of their selfish interest in acquiring properties and money killing the citizens of the great nation Nigeria enough is enough. ACTION please. NOBODY IS ABOVE THE LAW.

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