Abacha Loot: FG Has Strong Record of Transparency in Usage of Recovered Assets – Malami

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has disclosed that the Federal Government has established records of people-oriented utilization of recovered assets and strong commitment to transparency and accountability through diligent implementation of projects agreed upon.

He made this known on Monday, 4th February, 2020 as the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Government of Jersey and United States of America signed a tripartite agreement on recovery of over $300m looted funds.

The Special Assistant to the Minister on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, said in a statement on Tuesday, 4th February,2020 that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami signed the agreement on behalf of the Nigerian Government while the Solicitor General and Attorney General designate of Jersey, Mark Temple QC signed the Agreement on behalf of Jersey, the Deputy Assistant Attorney, Brian Benczkowski announced the agreement on behalf of the United States.

Malami recalled specifically the Federal Government’s agreement with Switzerland and the World Bank with particular reference to the disbursement of the three hundred and twenty-two million US Dollars ($322million) repatriated from Switzerland in 2018 under a World Bank monitored Social Investment Program targeted at poor households.

According to the statement, in his address during the signing, Abubakar Malami said that the agreement has culminated in a major victory for Nigeria and other African countries as it recognizes that crime does not pay and that it is important for the international community to seek for ways to support sustainable development through the recovery and repatriation of stolen assets.

He noted further that without the commitment of the three parties to the agreement (Nigeria, Jersey and the United States) and that of the legal experts and Attorneys representing Nigeria, it would have been impossible to achieve the success recorded.

He said, “As you are aware, the government of Nigeria has committed that the assets will support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria; the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja; Kano Road and the Second Niger Bridge. These projects are being executed under the supervision of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority as a Public Private Partnership that will boost economic growth and help alleviate poverty by connecting people and supply chains from the east to the west and to the northern parts of Nigeria, a vast area covering several kilometers with millions of the country’s population set to benefit from the road infrastructures”.

He urged for greater cooperation and mutual respect amongst countries in the implementation of expeditious cooperation measures already set out in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and in the implementation of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) principleson the repatriation of stolen assets.

The Minister called for Civil Society Organizations and the Nigerian public’s involvement in the monitoring of the usage of the recovered fund in the implementation of the key infrastructure projects that will greatly enhance road transportation in Nigeria.

According to a joint press statement on the agreement issued by the government of three countries, the Federal Government will establish a Monitoring Team to oversee the implementation of the projects and to report regularly on their progress.

The Nigerian Government, in consultation with the other Parties, will also engage Civil Society Organisations who have expertise in substantial infrastructure projects, civil engineering, anti-corruption compliance, anti-human trafficking compliance and procurement to provide additional monitoring and oversight.

The Solicitor General and Attorney General Designate of Jersey, Mark Temple QC, who signed the Agreement on behalf of Jersey said, “This Agreement represents the culmination of two decades of intensive work by Law Officers in Jersey, the United States and Nigeria. The return
of the assets to Nigeria had been delayed by a number of hard-fought challenges by third parties which were defeated in the Courts in Jersey and the United States.

The Agreement establishes a framework based on fruitful co-operation, trust and respect so that the forfeited funds can be repatriated to benefit the people of Nigeria, from whom they had been taken. The use of the funds will be subject to monitoring and reporting obligations.

This is a very significant achievement, and once again demonstrates Jersey’s commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering.”

Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, in his remarks, said, “Since becoming aware that the alleged proceeds of Abacha corruption and money laundering had passed through Jersey financial institutions, the Jersey Authorities have done everything within their power to investigate what happened and to return the money to its rightful owners, the people of Nigeria.

“I would like to offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to the dedicated team within the Law Officers’ Department, and their colleagues in United States and Nigeria. Their excellent level of cooperation in the fight against corruption at domestic and international levels should be an example for other jurisdictions to follow.

As a leading international finance centre with an effective and robust regulatory regime, Jersey has a responsibility to firmly address any instances of alleged money laundering and corruption. Our commitment to seeing these funds repatriated has led to a positive outcome for the people of Nigeria, has established lasting partnerships and given us a pioneering role in asset-recovery that is based on the principles of national interest, trust and mutual respect.”

The Deputy Assistant Attorney, Brian Benczkowski announced the agreement on behalf of the United States and stated that, “The Department is pleased to enter into this agreement with The Bailiwick of Jersey and the Federal Republic of Nigeria to return this enormous amount of stolen funds for the benefit of the people harmed by the corruption in Nigeria.

Through the recovery of these funds and this mutual agreement the people of Nigeria can see that the money they lost to corruption in flagrant disregard of the rule of law is returned through a lawful process, and in a manner that ensures transparent and accountable use of the funds. This is a major achievement. It also stands as a clear statement of our commitment to safeguarding the United States from those who seek to launder the proceeds of corruption through the abuse of our financial system”.

Modupe Ogundoro
Deputy Director