The Nigerian government says that it has received funds totalling $311 million from the United States of America and Jersey. The funds are part of monies looted by Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s former Head of State.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Umar Gwandu, said approximately $311,797,866.11 of the funds were repatriated from the United States and Jersey.
Mr Malami said: “The amount increased significantly from over $308 million as stated in a press release in February to over $311 million because of the interest that accrued from February 3, 2020, to 28th April, 2020, when the fund was transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
Malami said the process began in 2014 and a diplomatic intervention that commenced in 2014 resulted in the signing of a tripartite Asset Return Agreement on February 3, 2020 by Nigeria, the United States of America and Jersey.
“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 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 the Switzerland and the World Bank.”
“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.”
“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.”
The negotiation team was headed by Attorney-General Malami who hailed the tripartite agreement which led to the successful repatriation of the funds as a watershed which whill benefit victims of corruption.
He said that the government had agreed to use the funds for infrastructural projects across the country namely: The Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Road, and the Second Niger Bridge.