Malami Asks Civil Groups To Monitor FG’s Usage Of Recovered Abacha Loot

Abacha

 

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has called on civil society organisations and Nigerians generally to be involved in monitoring how recovered Abacha’s loot will be used by the Federal Government.

The Minister said it is important for Nigerians to be involved in the monitoring of the usage of the recovered fund in the implementation of the key infrastructure projects that will greatly enhance road transportation in Nigeria.

Malami made this known after the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Government of Jersey and the United States of America signed a tripartite agreement on the recovery of over $300m looted funds.

READ ALSO: New Abacha Loot To Fund Three Infrastructure Projects

This is contained in a statement issued by Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and made available to journalists on Tuesday.

According to the statement, Malami signed the agreement on behalf of the Nigerian government while the Solicitor General and Attorney General-designate of Jersey, Mark Temple QC signed the Agreement on behalf of Jersey. The Deputy Assistant Attorney Brian Benczkowski announced the agreement on behalf of the United States.

In his address during the signing, Malami said that the “agreement has culminated in a major victory, for Nigeria and other African countries as it recognises that crime does not pay and that it is important for the international community to seek for ways to support sustainable development through the recovery and repatriation of stolen assets.”

He noted further that “Without the commitment of the three parties to the Agreement (Nigeria, Jersey and the United States) and that of the legal experts and Attorneys representing Nigeria, it would have been impossible to achieve the success recorded today.”

Malami, also stated that the government of Nigeria has committed that the assets will support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria: the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Road and the Second Niger Bridge.

He also called for greater cooperation and mutual respect amongst countries in the implementation of expeditious cooperation measures already set out in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and in the implementation of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) principles on the repatriation of stolen assets.

“The Nigerian government, in consultation with the other parties, will also engage Civil Society Organisations, who have expertise in substantial infrastructure projects, civil engineering, anti-corruption compliance, anti-human trafficking compliance, and procurement to provide additional monitoring and oversight,” Malami added.

According to a joint press statement on the agreement issued by the government of three countries, the Federal Government is to establish a Monitoring Team to oversee the implementation of the projects and to report regularly on progress.

The recovered funds according to the US Missions were laundered through the US banking system and then held in bank accounts in Jersey in the name of Doraville Properties Corporation, a BVI company, and in the name of the son of the former Head of State of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha.

In 2014 a U.S. Federal Court in Washington DC 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.

US Begins Forfeiture Proceedings On Abacha’s Loot

Nigeria’s military Head of State between November 17, 1993 and June 8, 1998, Sani Abacha

The US has begun forfeiture proceedings on the proceeds of corruption owned by a former Nigerian Head of State, late General Sani Abacha.

Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke, in a statement on Wednesday said that his office had received requests for Mutual Legal Assistance for the Central Authority of the United States in relation to the forfeiture.

He expressed the Nigerian government’s readiness to cooperate with the United States in line with obligations assumed under the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and applauded the efforts of the United States to recover the ​proceeds of corruption for the benefit of the people of ​Nigeria

“The proceedings will make it possible for the defendants to forfeit over $550million and £95,910 in 10 accounts and six investment portfolios linked to Abacha in France, the ​Britain, British Virgin Islands and the United States.

“The overall objective of these efforts is to ensure that ​Nigeria as the Victim State is able to have the forfeited ​assets (money) repatriated to Nigeria to fund ​development projects for the benefit of the people in ​accordance with the dictates of Chapter IV of the United ​Nations Convention against corruption (UNCAC)” the statement read.

He assured the US government that Nigeria, as State Party to UNCAC, would do all that was required to realise the objective.

The forfeiture proceedings were initiated by the United States Department of Justice.

U.S. Seizes Over $458 Million Abacha Loot, Largest by Foreign Dictator

Nigeria’s military Head of State between November 17, 1993 and June 8, 1998, Sani Abacha
Nigeria’s military Head of State between November 17, 1993 and June 8, 1998, Sani Abacha

The United States has frozen more than $458 million that former Nigerian leader Sani Abacha and his conspirators obtained through corruption and hid in bank accounts around the world, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday.

About $313 million was restrained in bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey and $145 million was restrained in bank accounts in France, the department said in a statement.

The department said it was pursuing additional holdings in the United Kingdom with an expected value of at least $100 million, but that the exact amount would be determined later.

Abacha died in 1998 at age 54. Nigeria has for years been fighting to recover his money, but companies linked to the Abacha family have gone to court to prevent repatriation.

The former military dictator looted between $3 billion and $5 billion of public money during his five years ruling Africa’s top oil producer from 1993 to 1998, according to Transparency International.

In November, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit seeking the recovery of money that had been identified in overseas bank accounts. A judge in Washington, D.C., unsealed the lawsuit on Wednesday.

Named with Abacha as conspirators in the suit were his son Mohammed Sani Abacha and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, whom the suit called their associate.

They laundered money through the purchase of bonds backed by the United States using U.S. financial institutions, according to prosecutors.

Last month, U.S. arrest warrants for the assets were enforced in France as well as in the Bailiwick of Jersey off the coast of Normandy, through mutual legal assistance requests and in the United Kingdom through litigation, the Justice Department said.

The assets were held in banks including Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings PLC and Banque SBA, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also seeks the forfeiture of five corporate entities registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Switzerland returns $700m Abacha’s loot to Nigeria

The Switzerland Ambassador to Nigeria; Dr. Hans-Rudolf Hodel, has declared that a total of $700 million deposited in Swiss banks by the late former military Head of State; General Sani Abacha, has so far been returned to the Federal Government.

Dr. Hodel who was speaking in Abuja, stated that in the last 15 years, Switzerland has returned about $1.7 billion of illicit origin to their countries of origin including Angola, Peru, Nigeria and the Philippines.

The Swiss envoy however added that he is unaware of the existence of $1 billion alluded to by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, as still being held in Swiss banks.

According to Dr. Hodel, the Abacha case and others has compelled Switzerland to take more stringent steps to combat illicit dealings in its financial sector.

Some of the measures included: no anonymous accounts; banking secrecy is lifted when there are suspicions of criminal activities; strengthening anti-money laundering regulations; and being an active member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) against money laundering and terrorist financing.