Unending Recovery Of Abacha Loot With its Use Unaccounted

 By Elizabeth Chukwuma

 With barely three decades after the death of General Sani Abacha, the Nigerian government to have continued to recover the country’s looted Funds Laundered in the North American country of the United States, US, United Kingdom, UK, and Switzerland, meaning that that the former Head of State was running a mini –Central Bank of dollar accounts in these countries which are only known to him and family friends both within and outside the country.   

Abdulsalami Abubakar, a retired Army  General and former Nigeria Head of State was said to have opened  the floodgate for the recovery of the Nigerian government looted Funds which Abacha, the former  Head of state was said to have  stashed abroad for his own pecuniary gains . Olusegun Obsanjo, who had succeed General Abdulsami, in May 29, 21999, was said to have continued from where his predecessor had stopped to locate the looted Funds in Financial systems abroad. 

Late Gen. Abacha: Former Nigerian Head Of State Who Looted Millions Of Dollar Of Government Funds

 Late President Umaru Yar’adua, in 2007, was said to have also continued the search of the Nigerian looted Funds in foreign Banks by late Abacha. He had his way. President Muhammadu Buhari, who was in-charge of the Petroleum Trust Fun, PTF, during General Abacha’s regime and the former maximum dictator right hand man was said to have continued from where the former Nigerian Leaders had stopped to make more recoveries of the Abacha loot in Foreign Financial systems, particular, in US, UK and Switzerland.

Only recently,  Abubakar Malami, a senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation and Mary Beth Leonard, the US, Ambasador to Nigeria,  were said to have  reached agreement for the return  of  $23.5 million  of the Abacha loot that was recovered for the Nigerian government  last May.

The funds, according the US, National Crime Agency, NCA,  formed part of  a larger  pool  of money  identified  by the US, Department of Justice as having been  misappropriated  by Abacha and his associates and the family  of the maximum  Nigerian dictator.

As a prelude for the return of the mouth watery looted fund to the Nigerian government, the UK, government was said to have enforced the US, judgment against the additional $23 million rediscovered looted fund.

 There is no gain saying the fact the UK’s government cooperation with the US, investigators, restraint and enforcement of the judgment reached, along with valuable contributions by the Nigerian government and other Law enforcement agencies around the world, including the UK’S National Crime agency, as well as the Justice Department’s office of International Affairs, were said to have been involved in the recovery of the looted Abacha funds in foreign financial systems.

The recovery of the additional $23 million Abacha looted Funds may have started over alleged complaints that the former Head of state, and Mohammed, his son  as well as  their local  associate collaborator,   Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the incumbent governor of Kebbi state  and others, had ‘’embezzled , misappropriated  and extorted millions of dollars  from  the Nigeria  government and other’’s. The trio were said to have laundered their criminal proceeds through the US, financial institutions and transactions in the US.

In signing the recent agreement by the two top officials of  the Nigerian and the US government  for the return of the additional recovered $23 million to  Nigerian , the dual who were said to be acting on the instruction of  their respective countries’ Presidents  had assured that ‘’to ensure transparency , accountability, administration of the funds  and execution of projects  by the Nigerian Foreign Investment Authority,  NSIA, , Financial review  by an independent Auditor and monitoring by  an independent  civil society organization  with expertise  in engineering and other areas were involved.

Indeed, the two parties may have adopted the  Global  Forum Asset Recovery , GFAR, approach  to avoid diversion of the recovered  funds to other uses because of past experience  where several  other  such tranches of the Abacha loot which were recovered and returned to Nigeria  were said to have been diverted  from public coffers by the military Administrations in the 1990s.

Malami: Minister Of Justice And Attorney General of The Federation

Malami, the minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, was emphatic on what the $23.5 million will be used for when it is eventually returned to the Nigerian government. The minister, who  may be working closely with Babatunde Fashola, a former governor of Lagos state and minister of Works and Housing had  said that  ‘’it will be invested  in three key ongoing  government projects which includes the Lagos-Ibadan Express,  Abuja-Kaduna road  and the second Niger bridge in south east  part ofNigeria begging to be completed  in order to benefit  the citizen  of the various regions where the projects are located.

The agreement was said to have included ‘’the expenditure of the funds to benefit alleged perpetrators of the corruption to pay contingency fees for the lawyers’’. A source who had sighted the agreement  disclosed that  ‘’it reflects  the sound principles  for ensuring transparency and accountability   adopted aat  GFAR,  in December  2017, in Washington , DC, which  the  US and the UK, were said to have been  hosted with the support  from the Stolen Asset  Recovery Initiative of the World Bank and United Nations, UNs’, office  on Drugs and Crime.

 Take for instance, in 2006, during the Obasanjo’s Administration, about $723 million was said to have been returned to Nigeria from Switzerland but the use of the money was said to have been unaccounted for by Transparency International in its report.

.During Jonathan’s Administration,   the US, District Court of Columbia was said to have entered a judgment ordering the forfeiture of $500million located in accounts around the world. The US and Jersey, were said to have also agreed to return over $308 million of the Abacha confiscated assets to Nigeria.

The Value News findings shows that as a result of the forfeiture   complaints   for the more than $625 million traceable to the money laundering involving proceeds of the late Abacha corrupt Administration.  In 2020, under the current Administration of the Katsina state born Nigerian President, the US, Department of Justice was said to have repatriated over $311.7 million of the forfeited Abacha recovered financial assets that had been located in  in the Bailiwick of Jersey, US.

The US government, in a Statement had said that with the latest tranche of funds recovered for the Nigerian government, the total amount that had been forfeited to the Nigerian government from the Abacha loot in two recoveries alone between 2020 and now, will be $334.7 million.

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