Kemi Adeosun, the minister of finance, has come under intense pressure to deny blocking the dubious payment of $16.5 million to Nigerian lawyers over the recovery of Abacha Loot, sources in her office have told TheCable.
“There have been calls from all over the country putting her under pressure and suggesting that she is fighting the president,” an aide to the minister told TheCable on Tuesday morning.
He said the office would issue a statement to deny the story.
However, TheCable had a WhatsApp message exchange with Adeosun before publishing the story.
She confirmed not approving the payment and sending the request back to the ministry of justice.
The management of TheCable has decided to make the screenshot of the conversation public “if it has to come to that”.
TheCable had confirmed that the recovered $321 million Abacha loot had been repatriated to Nigeria by the Swiss government following the execution of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries for the judicious use of the recovery.
However, Abubakar Malami, the minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, had curiously engaged the services of another set of lawyers in 2016 for a fee of about N6 billion — despite full payment having been made to Enrico Monfrini, the Swiss lawyer that handled the recovery.
All that was left was for a government-to-government communication for the repatriation of the money to Nigeria.
Malami’s request to Adeosun was returned to him following allegations of duplication of payments as reported by TheCable.
The following statement has now been issued by the minister’s office.
The attention of the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has been drawn to false media reports of a “strongly-worded letter to the President” objecting to the payment of $16.9 million fees to two lawyers for the recovery of Abacha funds.
2. The Minister wishes to dissociate herself and the Federal Ministry of Finance from recent malicious and misleading media reports on the Abacha refunds. The Minister had at no time written any letter to the President or any member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the payment of lawyers for the Abacha recovery.
3. She also refuted the flawed media reports of controversy surrounding the Abacha recovery, disclosing that the sum of US$322,515,931.83 was received into a Special Account in the Central Bank of Nigeria on December 18, 2017 from the Swiss Government.
4. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no controversy concerning the recovery of the Abacha monies from the Swiss Government.
Special Adviser, Media & Communications to the Hon. Minister of Finance
Federal Ministry of Finance