IBADAN, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- The United States government has signed an agreement with the federal government to repatriate $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria.
The agreement was signed on Tuesday at the office of Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.
Abubakar Malami said the money was part of the looted stolen funds traced to former Military President, Mohammed Sani Abacha.
The United States was represented at the signing ceremony by its Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Mary Leonard.
Malami disclosed that both countries arrived at this stage after many negotiation meetings between the representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) and the UK National Crime Agency (NCA).
The AGF expressed his gratitude towards the efforts of the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom in ensuring that looted funds recovered are returned to Nigeria not only in this instant case but in other pending cases such as Bayelsa, Galactica, Blue Trust and Saborne assets.
Malami recalled that since 2016, the FMOJ, the UK NCA and the USDOJ have been working closely with the legal representatives of the FG to finalize litigations related to Abacha linked assets.
“Further to the agreement between the parties, the UK High Court granted the NCA a Registration and Recovery Order, dated 28 July 2021 and sealed by the Court on 4th August 2021” the AGF said.
Malami disclosed that the forfeited Mecosta/Sani assets were subsequently transferred to the National Crime Agency, which on 7th February 2022, held the sum of twenty three million, four hundred and thirty nine thousand, seven hundred and twenty four United States Dollars ($23,439,724) pending the execution of the asset return agreement agreed between the FRN and the USA.
Following the court order, Malami said the FRN and the USA have negotiated and finalized the terms of the asset return agreement.
“It is worthy to note that in line with the terms of this Agreement, Mr President has already approved the funds to be utilized for the on-going Presidential Development Infrastructural Funds (PIDF) projects namely; Abuja-Kano Road, Lagos-lbadan 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 organization to complete these three projects within the agreed timeline,” Malami stated.
The AGF therefore urged the Government of the United States not to relent in supporting Nigeria’s commitment to the speedy, transparent management of returned assets.
“As partners in the global effort fo promote an effective implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and against the background of constrained economic resources, I urge you to support us in meeting these critical priorities of the FRN by working with us to finish the projects already agreed under the 2020 Tripartite agreement among Nigeria, USA, and the Bailiwick of Jersey for the benefit of Nigeria and its citizens,” Malami said.