The government of US has returned $312 million seized from Nigeria’s former dictator Sani Abacha.
This information was revealed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
The loot ($311,797,866) which was received by the Nigerian government on Monday was repatriated from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey after a recent agreement.
Malami, in a statement by his Spokesman, Umar Gwandu, said the amount increased from over $308 million two months ago to $311 million because of the interest that accrued.
He noted that the litigation process for the return of these assets titled “Abacha III” commenced in 2014, while the diplomatic process that culminated into the signing of the Asset Return Agreement in February.
“This Agreement is based on international law and cooperation measures that sets out the procedures for the repatriation, transfer, disposition and management of the assets.
In line with the 2020 Asset Return Agreement, the fund has been transferred to a Central Bank of Nigeria Asset Recovery designated account and would be paid to the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) within the next fourteen days.
“The NSIA is responsible for the management and execution of the projects to which the funds will be applied,” the Minister has said.
Malami said the money will be used to fund projects including Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Road, and the Second Niger Bridge.
To ensure transparent management of the returned assets, the Nigerian government promised to, “engage a Civil Society Organisation, who has combined expertise in substantial infrastructure projects, civil engineering, anti-corruption compliance, anti-human trafficking compliance, and procurement to provide additional monitoring and oversight.”
Be Ready To “replace” Returned $300m Abacha Loot If Misused
Meanwhile, the United States Government has told Nigeria to be ready to “replace” the $300m General Sani Abacha loot it returned to the country if the fund was misused.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, the money must be used for the agreed public projects highlighted in the agreement signed with it before the fund was returned to Nigeria.
“Should any of the parties — including the United States —conclude that any of the returned funds had been used for an ineligible expenditure, a “claw-back” provision would then obligate the FRN (Nigeria) to replace fully any such improperly diverted monies,” the letter said.
It did not specify how and to whom the money would be “replaced”.
“This return reflects the growing international consensus that countries must work together to ensure stolen assets are returned in a transparent and accountable manner.
“This agreement is a symbol of the weight that the United States government places on the fight against corruption,” the spokesperson for the US State Department, Morgan Ortagus said.
The provision is notable as Nigeria continues efforts to repatriate money allegedly stolen during Abacha’s regime from 1993 until his death in 1998.
Transparency International estimates that he stole as much as $5bn of Nigeria public funds during that time.