The Attoney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Michael Andoaka has faulted the procedure adopted by the British authorities in seeking mutual legal assistance as it relates to the ongoing legal battle between former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori and the London Metropolitan Police resulting in the seizure of the former’s worldwide assets.
In a letter addressed to the office of the British Home Secretary, Andoakaa in response to an earlier request for Mutual Legal Assistance dated August 30, 2007 which he said was received in October 2007 maintained that the request emanated from incompetent quarters.
The request, which he said emanated from David M Williams, Crown Prosecutor of the Fraud Prosecution Service, CPS, London was not the competent authority to make such a request under the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement between the Government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria concerning the Investigation and Prosecution of Crime and the Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime, 1989.
Andoakaa noted that certain materials provided to the British authorities by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which did not pass through him “may prove useful to in any prosecution which may be undertaken in Nigeria against Mr Ibori in respect of corruption allegation so as to effectively rely on the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
The letter entitled “Letter of Request (Supplementary); ‘Operation Tureen’ Re: James Onanefe Ibori, Cristine Omatie Ibori-Ibie, Adebimpe Pogoson and Udoamaka Okoronkwo” reads “I write in respect of your request for Mutual Legal Assistance ref. FPS.DMW dated 30th August, 2007 but received in October, 2007”
“The said request emanated from David M. Williams, Crown Prosecutor of the Fraud Prosecution Service, CPS, London who is not the competent authority to make such request under the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Concerning the Investigation and Prosecution Crime and Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime, 1989”.
According to him” The person designated for The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as the Central authority competent to make a request for mutual legal assistance is the Secretary of State for the Home Department. I cannot therefore accede to your request as it is not in compliance with Article 3 (1) and (2) of the agreement between our respective countries”.
Continuing, he said “Turning to your request for evidence, I understand that your officials have been cooperating closely with officers of EFCC in relation to the UK investigation into Mr Ibori. Certain materials provided to you which are placed before me may prove useful in any prosecution which may be undertaken in Nigeria against Mr Ibori in respect of corruption allegation so as to effectively rely on the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and your own interpretation of the same as conveyed in your letter No ML 104/165/1918 dated 8th November, 2004, copy of which is annexed hereto”.
“A perusal of your earlier response declining our request for a mutual legal assistance in respect of Joshua Dariye established that a request shall be declined where no proceedings have been instituted against the subject persons in Nigeria”.
“Any evidence available to you may be forwarded to me for evaluation or use in reaching a decision to prosecute in Nigeria. A copy of this letter is endorsed to the Crown Prosecution Service. Please accept the assurances of my warm regards at all times”, the letter read.