THE government of the United States of America (USA) has agreed to return to Nigeria the over $300 million looted by Nigeria’s former Head of State, the late Gen. Sani Abacha, and a former Governor of Bayelsa State, the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Mr Salihu Isah, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) yesterday said the minister has signed an agreement with the US government in that direction.
Malami had disclosed in his speech at the Chatham House, London in the United Kingdom (UK) that the US government had taken custody of the money, including parts of it stashed in the UK, France and Jersey.
In the speech titled, “Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption Effort: Working with the Media, Civil Society and International Partners”, the minister said the US government took custody of the over $300 million following forfeiture orders made by American courts.
He said of the $300million, the sums of $1.6million and £21.7million were in the UK, $145 million was stashed in France, and $299 million in Jersey.
According to the minister, tackling corruption must be a major area of focus for any Government that sincerely seeks to improve its society.
He told the House that he has signed two Agreements on behalf of Nigeria with Switzerland and the USA for the return of previously looted funds.
“The first agreement with Switzerland will involve the return of $321 million traced to Nigeria’s former Head of State, General Sani Abacha which has been the subject of intense diplomatic horse-trading and negotiations over the last two decades.
“The second agreement, with the US, sets outs the roadmap for the eventual return of sums in excess of $300m currently in the custody of the US Government following Forfeiture Orders by American courts and which relate to monies stashed away in the UK ($1.6m and 21.7m Pounds), France ($145m) and Jersey ($299m) respectively, by certain interests including a former Governor of Nigeria’s Bayelsa State, Mr. Diepreye Alamieyeisegha and the Abacha family, among others”, Malami stated in his speech.
He said the whistle-blowers policy, which is a component of the anti-corruption war was introduced in Nigeria to encourage a citizen-centred approach to the fight against corruption and added that, despite the initial challenges, the policy has proven to be a huge success resulting in several recoveries by the Government, including the famous seizure of $43m plus cash discovered in a flat in Lagos on 12th April, 2017.
He commended the Chatham House for the active interest it has taken in the evolution of democracy and development in Nigeria.