De Yusuf Alli, editor in chief, Abuja
The federal government received US $ 311,797,866.11 from the assets of the former head of state, the late General Sani Abacha, of the United States (USA) and Bailiwick of Jersey, said the attorney general of the Federation and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami. .
Malami, a senior lawyer from Nigeria (SAN), said that while about $ 308 million is expected since February, the $ 308 million mentioned in the February press release has increased to more than $ 311 million due to interest .
The minister said that interest accrued from February 3 to April 28 this year, when the fund was transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The funds were returned to Nigeria under an agreement called "Abacha III".
The disclosures were contained in a statement in Abuja by AGF's Special Media and Public Relations Assistant, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu.
The statement quoted Malami as saying: "The process of returning these assets entitled & # 39; Abacha III & # 39; began in 2014, while the diplomatic process that culminated in the signing of the Asset Return Agreement on February 3, 2020 by the Governments of the Federal Republic of the Republic. from Nigeria, the United States of America and Bailiwick from Jersey started in 2018.
“This agreement is based on international law and cooperation measures that establish procedures for repatriation, transfer, disposal and management of assets.
“The recovery effort further consolidates the established history of the federal government administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari, who has a $ 322 million recovery history from Switzerland in 2018, which is being implemented in a transparent and judicious manner in support of indigent Nigerians, as specified in the agreement signed with Switzerland and the World Bank.
“AGF, who led the negotiation team, noted that the Tripartite Agreement and the process for implementation represent a major watershed in the Recovery and Repatriation of International Assets, in that it aims to provide benefits to victims of corruption.
“According to the 2020 Asset Return Agreement, the fund was transferred to an account designated by CBN Asset Recovery and would be paid to the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) in the next fourteen days. NSIA is responsible for the management and execution of the projects to which the funds will be applied. "
The minister said that the government will invest the assets in accelerating the construction of the following infrastructure: Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja Expressway – Kano and Niger's Second Bridge.
He said the Federal Government was in the process of establishing a project monitoring team to oversee project implementation and regularly report on progress made to the public.
Malami added: “To ensure transparent management of returned assets, the Nigerian government will also hire civil society organizations that have combined expertise in substantial infrastructure projects, civil engineering, anti-corruption compliance, human trafficking compliance and procurement to provide monitoring and oversight. additional.
“The hiring process for the CSO monitor has already started with the ads published in two Nigerian newspapers, the Federal Tender Journal and The Economist.
“It can be remembered that the recovered funds were laundered by the US banking system and held in bank accounts at Bailiwick in Jersey.
“In 2014, a US Federal Court in Washington D.C. lost money as property involved in illicit laundering the proceeds of corruption resulting from Nigeria during the period from 1993 to 1998, when General Abacha was Head of State.
"In 2017, the FRN filed a case at Bailiwick in Jersey to assert its authority as the owner of these funds and as a victim of General Abacha's action."
Malami called for greater cooperation and mutual respect between countries in implementing rapid cooperation measures.
"The measures have already been established in the United Nations Convention against Corruption and in implementing the principles of the Global Forum on Recovery of Assets (GFAR) on the repatriation of stolen goods," he said.
AGF assured Nigerians that the government would ensure that returned assets are managed in a transparent manner.