The federal government says it is yet to retrieve the $15m arms funds the South African government seized from the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan due to “multiplicity of diplomatic engagement”.
On September 5, South African authorities seized $9.3m cash belonging to the Nigerian government before seizing another $5.7m about one month later, claiming both funds were intended for the illegal purchase of arms.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, Abubakar Malami, minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation (AGF), said diplomatic intricacies and the long process involved has been a major cause of delay in retrieving the fund.
He said such hitches also account for why the government was yet to record much success in efforts aimed at repatriating looted funds.
“As it relates to the money in South Africa and other countries, my reaction to recovery generally is that it is a process; a process involving mostly nations whose legal systems differ,” he said.
“The process in respect of diplomatic consideration equally plays a key role over and above international convention and best practices.
“So, when multiplicity of legal systems is in issue, multiplicity of diplomatic engagement is in contention, delay is naturally bound to set in.
“But, one thing I want to state categorically is that the government is doing whatever is possible to ensure the recovery of monies that relate to Nigeria in all jurisdictions and not necessarily limited to South Africa.”
Malami’s claims notwithstanding, the South African government had confirmed at that time that Nigeria had received the seized funds.
Although the purported arms deal that led to the seizure was speculated to be illegal, Sambo Dasuki, then national security adviser, maintained that the transactions were legal.