FG, US sign agreement on return of over $23 million Abacha loot.

The Federal Government and the United States Government have reached an agreement on the return of more than $23.439 million Abacha loot.

The agreement involves the management of some forfeited assets in relation to MECOSTA/Sani Mohammed Asset known as Abacha V.

The agreement which is on the sharing, transfer, repatriation, disposition and management of the said asset was signed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, on behalf of Nigeria and the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard on behalf of the U.S government.

The agreement signing ceremony was held in the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami on Tuesday in Abuja.

What the Minister of Justice is saying

Malami said, “Permit me to express my gratitude towards the efforts of the Governments of the U.S. and the UK in ensuring that looted funds recovered are returned to Nigeria; not only in this case but in other pending cases such as Bayelsa, Galactica, Blue Trust and Saborne assets.

“We are hopeful that these remaining cases would soon be concluded and that the courts will take decisions in favour of the people of Nigeria who are the victims of the stolen assets.’’

Malami said that when returned, the fund will be invested in some critical ongoing projects that include Abuja-Kaduna road, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the 2nd Niger Bridge under its Presidential Development Infrastructural Funds (PIDF) projects.

The minister said, “These projects include Abuja-Kana Road, Lagos-Ibadan 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 organizations to complete these three projects within the agreed timeline.’’

Why the US Government seized the funds

Speaking at the occasion, Ambassador Mary Leonard said the US government seized these funds in response to General Abacha and his associates’ violation of U.S. laws by laundering these assets through the U.S. and into accounts in the UK.

She said, “I am pleased to represent the US government to finalise the agreement for the repatriation of additional assets stolen by former dictator, Sani Abacha and his associates from the Nigerian people.

“These actions were flagrant breach of the Nigerian people’s trust, but today is the result of an extensive and high level corporation between the U.S., the UK and Nigeria.

“This agreement is also a kind of collaboration that our government must continue in order to right the wrongs committed under the previous regimes.’’

Leonard said this current repatriation will bring the total amount of funds repatriated to the country by the U.S. to over $334.7 million.

She added, “These proceeds will be transformed into visible and impactful representation of the possibilities of government assets that directly improve the lives of average Nigerians.

“U.S. law enforcement will continue to deny safe-heavens for corrupt actors and their assets.

“As a partner deeply invested in Nigeria’s success, we will continue to do our part to facilitate the recovery and return of the proceeds of corruption to the Nigerian people.’’