Itse Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC), on Thursday said Nigeria could lose $550m recovered from the Abacha family to the United States.
Speaking on Thursday at a news conference on asset recovery, organised by PACAC and the office of the senior special assistant to the president on foreign affairs and the Diaspora, Sagay said Nigeria had forfeited $480m to the US in 2014.
Also speaking at the parley, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, senior special assistant to the president on foreign affairs and diaspora, decried a situation where, for example, US gives Nigeria an aid of $1bn but keeps $1bn of funds recovered from Nigeria.
“Nigeria presently stands to lose another $550 million recovered from the Abacha family to the U.S., contrary to the earlier promise by the US to return same to Nigeria,” he said.
Sagay said the amount was a separate tranche from the earlier $480m forfeited to the US following a court judgment in August 2014.
He said that the stringent conditions for repatriation being given by the countries where the nation’s stolen wealth was stashed, contradicted the promises they made earlier.
“Out of the Abacha loot, for instance, Switzerland seized over $505m between 2004 and 2006,” he said.
“The UK recovered $2.7m from Alamieyeseigha’s account in London in 2005. Alamieyeseigha’s home and other real estate as at 2005 was estimated at over $15m.”
Abike Dabiri-Erewa called for an unconditional return of Nigeria’s stolen funds.
She said asset recovery was different from asset returning, and decried the uncooperative attitude of the countries where the stolen funds were being stashed.
“America has over $400m that have been officially recovered as stolen funds from Nigeria,” she said.
“But America is keeping the funds; they are telling us about technicalities. They are saying we recovered doesn’t mean we can return.
“We want every Nigerian in Diaspora, friends of Nigeria, to join this committee in demanding that every Nigeria’s stolen fund recovered in any part of the world should be returned to Nigeria.”
According to her, the person who steals is just as guilty as the person who keeps stolen funds.
“The person who steals is a criminal; the person who keeps known stolen funds is also liable,” she said.
“You can’t give us aid of $1bn and keep $1bn of funds you have recovered from Nigeria. So we will join the committee to embark on an advocacy with Nigerians outside the world to appeal to these nations to do everything possible to return what belongs to Nigeria.”