TITLE: Towards Attaining Sustainable Development Goals in a “Fantastically Corrupt” World: Issues in International Legal Framework on Mutual Legal Assistance for Recovery of Proceeds of Corruption and the Nigerian Act
ABSTRACT: Pervasive corruption is a global phenomenon which remains a major obstacle to development in various climes. The United Nations agenda 2030 recognizes the need to solve the problem of corruption as key to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In response to this problem, the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) was adopted in 2005 as an international instrument targeted at facilitating Mutual Legal Assistance in combating corruption, by aiding recovery of looted funds, seizure, confiscation and repatriation of stolen assets abroad. Nigeria has a history of leadership deficit and institutional failure accounting for numerous cases of corruption and siphoning of funds by the political class. To aid recovery of looted funds, Nigeria signed and ratified UNCAC, and signed into law the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act in 2019. Against this backdrop, this study will analyse the provisions of UNCAC in comparison to the provisions of the Nigerian MLA Act. The aims are to ascertain limitations in the UNCAC provisions which might prevent realization of its set objectives, determine the extent to which the Nigerian MLA Act incorporates the underlining principles of UNCAC and to identify the effectiveness of both laws in addressing the various challenges of recovering stolen assets and funds prior to their advent. The study was based on comparative case study and inductive method. It was found that UNCAC has several limitations which the Nigerian MLA Act failed to remedy. It was also found that the Nigerian MLA Act has a relatively narrow scope. It limits the scope of MLA crime generally without paying particular attention to corruption. Lastly, the Act failed to capture country specific challenges such as lack of political will and poor inter-agency coordination undermining domestic anticorruption efforts which might spread to the international level. The study therefore concludes that there is need for a review of the Nigerian MLA Act to affect obvious and necessary improvements that will mitigate the current challenges bedeviling it from producing the desired outcome in Nigeria.