SWITZERLAND, MAY 04
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Monday, announced that the Nigerian government has received $311,797,866 of the Abacha loot 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.”
According to sources, the decision to channel the repatriated funds towards building roads and bridges is commendable, however, there’s a need to strengthen the nation’s healthcare system in these challenging times by building hospitals.
Furthermore, concerns were raised about the judicious use of the funds for the designated projects because “if all the funds that have been repatriated all this while have been put to judicious use, Nigeria would be a better place”, said an analyst.