By Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation
The Attorney-General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) said the Federal Government has received $311,797,866.11 assets of a former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, which have been repatriated from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
Malami said although about $308million was being expected since February, the figure increased to over $311million because of accrued interest.
He said the interest accrued from 3rd February 2020 to 28th April 2020 when the fund was transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The funds were returned to Nigeria under an agreement called “Abacha III”.
The disclosures were contained in a statement in Abuja by the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to the AGF, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu.
According to Malami, the amount increased significantly from over $308million mentioned in the press release issued in February 2020 to over $311million because of the interest that accrued from 3rd February 2020 to 28th April 2020 when the fund was transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Malami said: “Litigation process for the return of these assets titled “Abacha III” commenced in 2014 while the diplomatic process that culminated into the signing of the Asset Return Agreement on 3rd February 2020 by the Governments of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, United States of America 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.
“The recovery effort further consolidates on the established record of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government which has a history of recovery of $322m from Switzerland
in 2018 which is being transparently and judiciously deployed in supporting indigent Nigerians as specified in the agreement signed with Switzerland and the World Bank.
“The Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice who led the negotiation team noted that the Tripartite Agreement and the process towards the implementation represents 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 said the government of Nigeria has committed that the assets
will support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria, namely:
· The Lagos – Ibadan Expressway
· Abuja – Kano Road, and
· The Second Niger Bridge.
He said the Federal Republic of Nigeria 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: “To ensure transparent management of the returned assets, the Nigerian government will also engage a Civil Society Organisation, who has combined expertise in substantial infrastructure projects, civil engineering, anti-corruption compliance, anti-human trafficking compliance, and procurement to provide additional monitoring and oversight. The process for the engagement of the CSO monitor has already commenced with the adverts placed in two Nigerian newspapers, the Federal Tender Journal and The Economist
“It may be recalled that the recovered funds were laundered through the U.S. banking system and then held in bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey.
“In 2014, a U.S. Federal Court in Washington D.C. forfeited the money as property involved in the illicit laundering of the proceeds of corruption arising in Nigeria during the period from 1993 to 1998 when General Abacha was Head of State. In 2017, the FRN filed a case in the Bailiwick of Jersey to assert its authority as the owner of these funds and as the victim of the action of General Abacha.
Malami called d for greater cooperation and mutual respect amongst countries in the implementation of expeditious cooperation measures.
“The measures have already been set out in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and in the implementation of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) principles on the repatriation of stolen assets.
He assured Nigerians that the Federal Government would ensure that the returned assets are transparently managed.