Nigeria and the United States have reached an agreement to repatriate over $23 million of the Abacha loot.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Tuesday in Abuja signed the agreement on the sharing, transfer, repatriation, disposition and management of the said asset.
Mr Malami said the forfeited Mecosta/Sani assets was twenty-three million, four hundred and thirty-nine thousand, seven hundred and twenty-four dollars.
“Permit me to express my gratitude towards the efforts of the Governments of the U.S. and the UK in ensuring that looted funds recovered are returned to Nigeria; not only in this case but in other pending cases such as Bayelsa, Galactica, Blue Trust and Saborne assets.
“We are hopeful that these remaining cases would soon be concluded and that the courts will take decisions in favour of the people of Nigeria who are the victims of the stolen assets’’.
He stated that President Muhammadu Buhari had already approved that the funds be used for the on-going Presidential Development Infrastructural Funds, PIDF, projects.
These projects include Abuja-Kana Road, Lagos-Ibadan Express Way and the Second Niger Bridge under the supervision of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
“The President’s mandate to my office is to ensure that all international recoveries are transparently invested and monitored by civil society organizations to complete these three projects within the agreed timeline’’.
He urged the U.S. not to relent in supporting Nigeria’s commitment to the speedy, transparent management of returned assets.
“I urge you to support us in meeting these critical priorities by working with us to finish the projects already agreed under the 2020 Tripartite agreement among Nigeria, U.S. and the Ballwick of Jersey for the benefit of Nigeria and its citizens’’.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard in her remarks the country seized these funds in response to General Abacha and his associates’ violation of U.S. laws by laundering these assets through the U.S. and into accounts in the UK.
“I am pleased to represent the US government to finalise the agreement for the repatriation of additional assets stolen by former dictator, Sani Abacha and his associates from the Nigerian people.
“These actions were flagrant breach of the Nigerian people’s trust, but today is the result of an extensive and high level corporation between the U.S., the UK and Nigeria.
“This agreement is also kind of collaboration that our government must continue in order to right the wrongs committed under the previous regimes’’.
Leonard said this current repatriation will bring the total amount of funds repatriated to the country by the U.S. to more than 334.7m dollars.
“These proceeds will be transformed into visible and impactful representation of the possibilities of government assets that directly improve the lives of average Nigerians.
“U.S. law enforcement will continue to deny safe-heavens for corrupt actors and their assets.
“As a partner deeply invested in Nigeria’s success, we will continue to do our part to facilitate the recovery and return of the proceeds of corruption to the Nigerian people,’’ she added.