FG confirms receipt of $311m Abacha loot from US, Jersey

The Federal Government has confirmed receipt of $311m looted by former head of state Gen. Sani Abacha.

The Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, confirmed this in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, on Monday.

According to him, the funds were repatriated from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

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He explained the loot, which was originally $308m rose to approximately $311,797,866.11 due to the interest that accrued from February 3, 2020, to 28th April, 2020, when the fund was transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

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

Malami said: “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 AGF noted that the development was further indicative of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s determination to recover public funds looted out of the country.  

He cited the recovery of $322m from Switzerland in 2018 which he claimed was transparently and judiciously deployed in supporting indigent Nigerians as specified in the agreement signed with the Switzerland and the World Bank.

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Malami observed 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 within the next fourteen days. The NSIA is responsible for the management and execution of the projects to which the funds will be applied,” he added.

The statement continued: “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 Nigeria newspapers – Daily Trust and The PUNCH (4th March, 2020 and a Notice of Extension on 17th April, 2020), the Federal Tender Journal (9th and 23rd March, 2020), the Economist (14th March, 2020). The advert can also be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

“It may be recalled that the recovered funds were laundered through the US banking system and then held in bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey. In 2014, a US 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.”

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