Reps probe moves to pay $17 million to lawyers over Abacha loot
The House at the plenary presided by Speaker Yakubu Dogara resolved to set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the engagement of Nigerian lawyers, Oladipo Okpeseyi, (SAN), and Temitope Adebayo, for a fee of $16.9 million (about N6 billion) even when the actual work had been concluded by Mr. Enrico Monfrini, and was paid by the Nigerian government for the recovery of the sum of $321 million part of the Abacha loot in Luxembourg.
The committee is to also ascertain whether due process was followed and to report back within six weeks for further legislative action.
The House further urged President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the payment of the said fee or any part thereof pending the outcome of investigation on the matter.
Sponsor of the motion, Mr. Mark Terseer Gbillah (Benue: APC) claimed he was aware that Mr. Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss Lawyer was engaged by the Nigerian government since 1999 to work on recovering the Abacha loot for which the sum of $321 million was a part and had finished the Luxembourg leg of the job since 2014 when Mohammed Bello Adoke was the Attorney-General of the Federation.
He further claimed that he was aware that Mofrini had since been paid by the Federal Government for his legal services for the recovery of the money which was then domiciled with the Attorney-General of Switzerland pending the signing of an MoU with Nigeria to avoid the issues of accountability around previous recoveries.
He maintained that all that was left on the issue was the signing of the MoU, which is a government-to- government communication for the money to be repatriated to Nigeria.
He said he was taken aback when Malami curiously engaged the services of the aforementioned lawyers in 2016 for a fee of $16.9 million (about N6 billion), without due process.
Gbillah particularly alleged that both Lawyers had worked for President Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a legacy party of the All Progressive Congress (APC) when Malami was the legal adviser of CPC, in spite the fact that the terms of the agreement reached with Mofrini for the recovery clearly spelt out that no other lawyer would be engaged for the return of the money to Nigeria.
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