- The U.S. has transferred $20.6m total repatriation of Abacha loot amounts to $332 million.
- America agreed to transfer 100% of the net forfeited assets to Nigeria to support three critical infrastructure projects in Nigeria
As part of the loot linked to former Nigerian military ruler General Sani Abacha and his accomplices, the US Department of Justice claimed to have transferred about $20.6 million to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The latest repatriation, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice on Thursday, brings the total sum the US has forfeited and returned in this matter to almost $332.4 million.
As a result of a civil forfeiture complaint for more than $625 million that could be linked to money laundering by Abacha, who took power as Nigeria’s head of state through a military coup on November 17, 1993, and held that position until his death on June 8, 1998, a judgment was entered in the District of Columbia ordering the forfeiture of roughly $500 million located in accounts around the world.
Over $311.7 million of the forfeited assets that were found in the Bailiwick of Jersey were returned by the department in 2020. The US decision was enforced against the additional $20.6 million by the UK government last year.
The US government said that the repatriation was in conformity with a deal reached on August 23 between the two nations to return assets that the US had taken from Abacha.
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“Under the agreement signed in August, the United States agreed to transfer 100% of the net forfeited assets to Nigeria to support three critical infrastructure projects in Nigeria that were previously authorized by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian legislature.
“The $20,637,622.27 marks a slight reduction from the $23 million announced in August due primarily to exchange rate fluctuations between British pounds sterling and U.S. dollars.
“The funds governed by this agreement will help finance the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and the Abuja-Kano road – investments that will benefit the citizens of each of these important regions in Nigeria,” the statement partly read.
The total amount of looted funds recovered from the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha in the past 24 years has been put at $3.65 billion. This was revealed by an infographic by the BBC with data gathered from the federal government, World Bank, and Transparency International.
It showed that in 1998, a total of $750 million was recovered from the late Head of State’s family; in the year 2000, $64 million was recovered from Switzerland; in 2002 – $1.2 billion was recovered from the Abacha family; in 2003, $160 million and $88 million were recovered from Jersey and Switzerland respectively, and in 2005 another $461.3 million was returned back to the country from Switzerland.
Also, in 2006, Nigeria was also fortunate to have received another $44.1 million from Switzerland; in 2014 – $227 million was recovered from Liechtenstein; in 2018 another $322 million from Switzerland; in 2020 a total of $311.7 million was repatriated from the USA and also recently an agreement was signed for another $23 million to be sent from the USA.
The federal government of Nigeria and the United States of America had on Tuesday signed an agreement for the repatriation of $23 million, assets looted by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
In a remark at the signing in Abuja, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had said since 2016, his ministry, the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (UK NCA), and United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) had been working closely with the legal representatives of the Federal Government to finalize litigations related to the Abacha linked assets.
Malami noted that based on an agreement between the parties, the UK High Court granted the NCA a registration and recovery order on July 21, 2021, which was sealed by the court on August 4, 2021.
He said, “The forfeited Mecosta/Sani assets were subsequently transferred to the NCA, which on February 7, 2022, held that the sum of $23,439,724, pending the execution of the asset return agreement between the FRN and the USA”.