Govt to recover $321 million loot

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Nigeria is set to sign a tripartite agreement with the United States (U.S.) and the Island of Jersey for the repatriation of $321 million looted assets, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said on Wednesday.

He told reporters at the Presidential Villa in Abuja after the first Federal Executive Council (FEC) of the year that the pact will be sealed next week.

According to him, the funds expected to be repatriated through the agreement are those traced to the family of a former Head of State, the late Ge. Sani Abacha; former Petroleum Resources Minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; Kola Aluko and former Delta State governor James Ibori.

According to Malami, the cash, when eventually repatriated, will be directed to fund critical projects like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano and the Second Niger Bridge.

With Malami at the news briefing were other ministers –  Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation); Babatunde Fashola (Works and Housing); Aliu Abubakar (Minister of State for Works and Housing); Suleiman Adamu (Water Resources); Dr. Osagie Ehanire (Health) and the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.

Giving further details of the agreement, Malami said: “It is in line with that spirit of aggressive recovery of looted assets that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (OAGF) has been pursuing the recovery of looted assets.

“We have overtime been discussing with other jurisdictions, including the Island of Jersey and the U.S. among others, for the purpose of the repatriation of looted assets linked to the Abacha family, Diezani Alison-Madueke and Kolawole Aluko, among others.

“It is within this context that we have now come to terms with this jurisdiction – Island of Jersey, United States of America, and indeed Nigeria, by way of negotiating, for the repatriation of sizable assets.

Nigeria is set to sign a tripartite agreement with the United States (U.S.) and the Island of Jersey for the repatriation of $321 million looted assets, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said on Wednesday.

“As it is, we have concluded on the understanding that the sum of $321 million will be repatriated in due course inclusive of James Ibori assets as well.

“So, we are hopeful that by next week we will sign the agreement for the looted assets. The assets that are going to be repatriated is located and in the custody of the Island of Jersey, but the U.S. came on board because it has obtained an order for forfeiture against the assets, considering that the medium of exchange used in looting the assets is the U.S. dollar. Arising from that the three jurisdictions will naturally be factored into the repatriation processes.

“So, the amount upon signing the MOU will be remitted from the Island of Jersey within a number of days agreed upon. Within 28 days, the money will be repatriated from the Island of Jersey to the United States of America and thereafter within 45 days, it is agreed by the parties that the United States of America will make the necessary arrangement for the eventual repatriation to Nigeria.

“This is where we are. The council has looked into the negotiated MoU that is expected to be signed that will now lay foundation for the eventual repatriation of the money.

“The council has graciously approved the execution of the agreement. The council instructed the Attorney-General of the federation to be a signatory to that MoU in preparation for the repatriation of the funds.”

Asked to break the figures to be repatriated down to the details for each of the persons they were linked to, the minister said: “The immediate figure for repatriation, as it relates to the agreement to be signed next week, is $321 million and the government has indeed given commitment that the proceeds of the looted assets, after recovery, should be applied to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano Highway and Second Niger Bridge.

“The $321 million expected to be repatriated is attached to Abacha and it’s named Abacha Loot. As it relates to James Ibori, the expected amount is €6,863,977.12 million, but the repatriation of same is being negotiated and processed.

“In respect of Mrs. Allison-Madueke and Kola Aluko, what is on the ground is MY Galactica Star Yatch which being sold for the realisation and the amount is yet to be finally agreed upon. We’ll disclose the amount when it’s finally agreed upon.”

When asked about the sharing arrangement on the agreement among the countries, he said: “America and the Island of Jersey are simply entitled to administrative cost, associated with the management of funds. So, $10 million was indeed what was earmarked to the two countries and the balance of $321 million is coming to Nigeria”.

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