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U.S. repatriates fresh $312 million Abacha loot

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The United States has returned another batch of the late General Sani Abacha loot in the sum of $311,797,866.11 to the Federal Government.

Attorney General of Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, confirmed the receipt in a statement issued yesterday by his Special Assistant on Media, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, in Abuja.

According to Malami, the significant increase in the $308 million initially mentioned in February this year followed accruing interest between February 3 and April 28 when the fund was transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He noted that the suit for the repatriation of the assets titled “Abacha III” commenced in 2014, while the diplomatic process that culminated in the signing of the Asset Return Agreement on February 3 by the governments of Nigeria, U.S. and the Bailiwick of Jersey began in 2018.

His words: “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.

“The recovery effort is a further consolidation on the established record of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government which has a history of recovery of $322 million from Switzerland in 2018, which is being transparently and judiciously deployed in supporting indigent Nigerians as specified in the agreement signed with Switzerland and the World Bank.”

Malami, who led the negotiation team, observed that the tripartite pact was a watershed in international asset recovery and repatriation, as it provides benefit to 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 (NSIA) within the next 14 days. The NSIA is responsible for the management and execution of the projects to which the funds will be applied,” he clarified.

The minister stated that government had committed that the assets would be deployed to hasten construction works on three critical infrastructure in the country, namely the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Abuja-Kano highway and the second Niger Bridge.

He hinted that the current administration was establishing a monitoring team to oversee the projects and give situational reports on a regular basis.

To ensure transparent management of the returned assets, the Buhari government is to engage a civil society organisation with requisite expertise in infrastructure, civil engineering, anti-corruption compliance, anti-human trafficking conformity and procurement to provide additional oversights.

The AGF said the engagement process had begun in earnest, as adverts had been placed in two national dailies to pick a suitable manager.


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