U.S. lays claim to $300m Abacha loot

The United States (US) has reportedly laid claim to $300 million stashed abroad by the late military dictator, Gen Sani Abacha.

Highlights: According to The Nation, the United States allegedly told a court in an unnamed foreign country that it had an interest in the loot because it was saved the US dollar.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) and rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN) made the claims yesterday in Lagos.

 

Malami, guest speaker Falana, Chairman, Special Investigative Panel on Assets Recovery Okoi Obono-Obla, among others, were participants at the seminar organised by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

The seminar, with the theme: “Promoting Transparency and Accountability in the Recovery of Stolen Assets in Nigeria: Proposals for Reform”, was organised in collaboration with the Ford Foundation, USA.

The AGF, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant on White Collar Crimes, Abiodun Aikomo, hinted of the US’ involvement in the case while condemning public officials who carry their loot abroad.

 

Mr Falana said: “Nigeria traced part of the Abacha loot (over $300m) to Jersey, an island in the United Kingdom. The Attorney-General filed a process to – by the way I was in that country when the person was convicted. The money left Nigeria through Kenya and landed in Jersey. It was from the late Abacha.

Nigeria wanted to collect the remaining loot. But the United States filed an objection, saying the money could not be released to Nigeria.

The court asked why; the US said if the money must be released, it should be released to the US government, so that ‘we can manage it for Nigeria.’

The other one, $321 million, Switzerland, a notorious conduit for corruption, had the temerity to say that ‘unless the World Bank is going to manage this money, we are not going to release this money”

Falana urged the Federal Government not to depend on the West in its loot recovery drive.

The United Nations Convention Against Corruption has made adequate provisions against corruption, mandating countries to assist each other but western countries have not been helping us. Our government should stop relying on the west.

He said he had advised, and the government was considering, suing foreign banks illegally holding onto funds stolen from Nigeria.

 

SERAP director, Adetunbo Mumuni praised the government for mustering the will to tackle corruption.

“Before President Muhammadu Buhari came, we knew there was massive corruption, but this administration has made attempts to bring corrupt people to justice,” he said.

Other guests at the event included Amnesty International Country Director Mrs Osai Ojigho; Department for International Development (DFID)’s Sonia Warner and Ford Foundation’s Ms Eva Kouka and Ms Linda Ochiel, among others.

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