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HomeNewsUS Returns $311m Abacha Loot to FG

US Returns $311m Abacha Loot to FG

By Felix Kassim

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scudnewsJustice Minister, Abubakar Malami

The Federal Government says it has received another sum 311 million dollars from the money stashed away in the United States by a former Head of State, late Gen. Sani Abacha.

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Monday. The statement made available to newsmen by Malami’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, said the money was repatriated from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

The minister said the repatriated sum recorded an increase of $3million from the 308 million US dollars stated in a press release in February 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.

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While noting that litigation process for return of the money dubbed “Abacha III”, commenced in 2014, Malami said the diplomatic process culminated in the signing of the Asset Return Agreement on February 3, 2020, by the governments of Nigeria, the US and Jersey, commenced in 2018.

“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,” he said.

According to the minister, the Asset Return Agreement is based on international law and cooperation that outlines the procedures for the repatriation, transfer, disposition and management of the assets.

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He said the return of Abacha’s loot from the US further consolidates on the established record of the present administration which has a history of recovery of $322 million from Switzerland in 2018.

The minister revealed that Nigeria will soon put in place a Project Monitoring Team to oversee implementation of the projects made possible by repatriated funds.“To ensure transparent management of 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.

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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 statement added.

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