Nigeria negotiates with US, France for return of stolen $500 million

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), said on Tuesday negotiations were ongoing for the return of $500m worth of assets located in the United States, Island of Jersey and France.

He said this while enumerating his achievements during handover at an auditorium in the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja where the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mr Dayo Apata, took over from him.

He said among the major recoveries his administration recorded was the sum of $322.5m allegedly stolen by the then Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, and stashed in Switzerland.

He said his administration also recovered the sum of N59,163,029,949.46 locally.

According to him, over $73m as ordered by the United Kingdom Commercial Court being part of the proceeds from the sale of OPL 245 by Malabu Oil and Gas Company to ENI/SHELL had also been recovered by his administration as the AGF.

“Additionally, there has been increased international engagement with more than seven countries, namely United Kingdom, United States of America, Switzerland, France, Italy, Island of Jersey, and United Arab Emirate.

“This is to ensure that all assets stolen from Nigeria are returned for the development of schools, power and health sectors, and to reduce poverty through funding of the social investment programmes and youth empowerment programmes.

“I was granted mandate by FEC vide approval in EC (2017) 232 of 1st November, 2017 to execute on behalf of the Federal Government, a tripartite agreement with the Swiss Federal Council and the World Bank for the repatriation of $321m Abacha loot,” he said.

He said that following negotiations, his administration finalised and signed the Memorandum of Understanding between World Bank, Nigeria and Switzerland, setting the modalities for the early return and transparent management of $322.5m stolen assets from Switzerland.

“The fund has since been repatriated back to Nigeria and is now being managed by the National Social Investment Office under the supervision of the World Bank. It is aimed to support households who are living below poverty line across the country.

“I have also led the Nigerian team in the signing of MOU on the modalities for the return of stolen assets between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

“Negotiations are underway for the return of $500m worth of assets located in the United States, Island of Jersey and France”

He added, “The recovery to the Federal Government of Nigeria of over $73m as ordered by the UK commercial court being part of the proceeds from the sale of OPL 245 by Malabu Oil and Gas Company to ENI/SHELL.”

He said about N250bn loot was recovered by his office in about two years of his administration.

He said the balance in the Recovery Account of the Federal Government as of May 29, 2015 stood at about N19.5bn.

“On recoveries generally, ladies and gentlemen, it may interest you to know that as of May 29, 2015, the balance in the recovery account of the Federal Government of Nigeria stands at N19,524,490,207bn (N19.5bn).

“The balance has geometrically increased to N279,047,318,400bn (N279bn) as of November 22, 2017 and counting. This represents an increase of 1,329 per cent.”

He also scored himself high in the areas of staff welfare and prison decongestion.

He said to ensure that Nigeria’s anti-corruption polices and laws were in compliance with international standards, the Federal Ministry of Justice inaugurated a Law Review Team to facilitate the review of existing laws relating to anti-corruption, transparency and accountability in governance.

Malami said the review team proposed new bills that addressed the limitations in existing laws in the form of bills, namely, the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill 2017; Anti-Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Bill 2017; Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Bill 2017; Proceeds of Crime Bill 2017; Public Interest Disclosure and Witness Protection Bill, 2017 and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, 2017.

He added, “Owing to these efforts, the NFIU Act was passed and assented to by President Buhari in July, 2018.

“Our contributions in facilitating the prompt passage of Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency Act prevented the expulsion of Nigeria from the EGMONT Group- which expulsion was embarrassingly imminent at the time. In the same token, it is my sincere hope that the Proceeds of Crimes Bill will soon become law to further make the anti-corruption war more effective.”

Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly and three former Attorneys-General of the Federation, namely Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN), Michael Aoondoaka (SAN), and Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN), were part of the dignitaries who graced the occasion.

Malami, also at the event, inaugurated the boards of some parastatals under the supervisory control of the Federal Ministry of Justice, namely, the Nigerian Institute of Legal Studies, the Legal Aid Council, the Council for Legal Education, the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, the Nigerian Copyright Commission and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.
Nigeria negotiates with US, France for return of stolen $500 million Nigeria negotiates with US, France for return of stolen $500 million Reviewed by Kate on May 29, 2019 Rating: 5

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