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FG receives $311m Abacha Loot from US, Jersey

FG receives $311m Abacha Loot from US, Jersey
May 04
16:31 2020
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The federal government has received $311,797,866.11 as part of recovered assets of Sani Abacha, former military dictator.

The funds were repatriated from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, special assistant on media and public relations to Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, disclosed this in a statement on Monday.

According to Malami, the amount increased significantly from over $308 million mentioned in the press release issued in February 2020 to over $311 million because of the interest that accrued from February 3, 2020 to April 28, 2020 when the fund was transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He said the litigation process for the return of the assets titled “Abacha III” commenced in 2014 while the diplomatic process that culminated in the signing of the Asset Return Agreement on February 3, 2020 by the governments of Nigeria, US and the Bailiwick of Jersey commenced in 2018.

“This Agreement is based on international law and cooperation measures that set out the procedures for the repatriation, transfer, disposition and management of the assets,” he said.

The statement cited the $322m recovered from Switzerland in 2018 which it said “is being transparently and judiciously deployed in supporting indigent Nigerians as specified in the agreement signed with the Switzerland and the World Bank”.

The statement said Malami, who who led the negotiation team, described the Tripartite Agreement and the process towards the implementation as representing “a major watershed in International Asset Recovery and Repatriation as it seeks to provide benefit to the victims of corruption”.

“In line with the 2020 Asset Return Agreement, the fund has been transferred to a Central Bank of Nigeria Asset Recovery designated account and would be paid to the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) within the next fourteen days. The NSIA is responsible for the management and execution of the projects to which the funds will be applied,” Malami was quoted to have said.

He said the federal government has committed the assets to support and assist in expediting the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Abuja-Kano road, and the Second Niger Bridge, adding that the country is in the process of establishing a project monitoring team to oversee the implementation of the projects and report regularly on progress made to the public.

Malami added that to ensure transparent management of the returned assets, the federal government will also engage a civil society organisation, which has combined expertise in substantial infrastructure projects, civil engineering, anti-corruption compliance, anti-human trafficking compliance, and procurement to provide additional monitoring and oversight.

In November 2013, the US filed a civil forfeiture action alleging that approximately $625 million located in Jersey, France, and the United Kingdom was traceable to money laundering activity in the country involving Abacha and his associates.

A total of $308 million was subsequently recovered and frozen in same year but the repatriation process was stalled, following a lawsuit filed by the Abachas.

There was controversy over the $321 million earlier repatriated from Switzerland. Malami had engaged Oladipo Okpeseyi and Temitope Adebayo, Nigerian lawyers, for the recovery of the sum.

But Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer who had been on the recovery job since 2000, told TheCable in a series of interviews that hiring the new lawyers was needless because he had already completed the task.

Despite an outcry, the Nigerian lawyers were secretly paid $15 million by the federal government.

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