By Chukwudi Nweje
A socio-political group, Rescue Nigeria Economy Project, has alleged that Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), is being manipulated by the British Government on the repatriation of £4.2 million allegedly seized from Chief James Ibori, former Delta state governor.
It said the British government was aware of a pending litigation before the United Kingdom (UK) Court on the seized funds before signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to repatriate the funds as well as listing projects the funds would be expended on.
The group, in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Dennis Alamu-George, asked Malami to stop using propaganda to distract Nigerians from the failings of the government.
It said: “We are surprised at the naivety Mr Malami has demonstrated, so far, on this particular issue. He is being manipulated by the British Government. The British High Commissioner knew that the litigation was still ongoing in the UK Courts. Having followed the matter closely and noticed Mr Malami’s incessant statements on the Ibori saga, we strongly believe that their aim is to continually put the issue in the media for propaganda purposes.
“If Mr. Malami thinks he can divert the attention of over 200 million Nigerians from the worsening insecurity challenges in the country and the failings of the government in general, then he is just fooling himself.”
Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU), through its President General, Joseph Omene, in a letter titled Re: Commendation for retrieval of Delta’s stolen funds and request for review of projects to be executed with the retrieved funds’ wrote Malami and requested that the funds be used exclusively for projects in Delta State.
The AGF, in his reply, said the court case instituted by Ibori in UK was stalling repatriation of the funds and asked UPU to advise Ibori to withdraw his case.
The United Kingdom and the Federal Government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in March this year, on repatriating the funds to Nigeria and specific projects it will be used, in line with the conditions issued by the United Kingdom for the release of the funds.
Among projects the federal government said the funds would be used to finance are completion of the second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan and the Abuja to Kano expressway.