The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Wednesday said the Federal Government would publish the names of treasury looters intermittently after it must have met some conditions.
A Federal High Court in Lagos had earlier on Wednesday gave a ruling compelling the Federal Government to “immediately release to Nigerians information about the names of high-ranking public officials from whom public funds were recovered and the circumstances under which funds were recovered, as well as the exact amount of funds recovered from each public official.”
Justice Hadiza Shagari gave the order while delivering judgment in a suit filed against the Federal Government by a human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project.
The Federal Government had last year, through the Ministry of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed that it had recovered cash sums of N78,325,354,631.82, $185,119,584.61, £3,508,355.46 and €11,250, among others, between May 29, 2015 and May 25, 2016.
The names of persons from whom the funds were recovered were, however, not made public.
SERAP had last year filed the suit, seeking a court order to compel the Federal Government to make the names public.
In a judgment on Wednesday, Justice Shagari, upheld the group’s argument that “by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the defendants are under a binding legal obligation to provide the plaintiff with up-to-date information” as regards the names of the high-ranking public officials from whom the funds were recovered as well as “the circumstances under which the stolen public funds were returned.”
SERAP had, in its suit marked FHC/CS/964/2016, contended that by releasing the names of the looters, the Federal Government had nothing to lose.
While answering reporters’ questions at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Malami said the list would be published intermittently.
He said, “Let me place it on the record that we have Freedom of Information Act in place. And the government is fully aware of its responsibility.
“But we have to take into account and consideration, the fact that there are some factors that have to be considered as far as making these disclosures are concerned.
“There are matters that are sub judice in court. There are matters of reconciliation, compilations and other associated things.
“On the need and compliant basis, the Federal Government has been making public necessary statements.
“The disclosure will definitely be made, but it is contingent on reconciliation of associated considerations as they relate to sub judice principles; as they relate to concluding, reconciliation and confirmation of figures.
“So that has been done and the government will at the appropriate time make necessary disclosures perhaps intermittently against the background of the prevailing conditions relating to the pendency of certain things and associated things.”