From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The federal government has received €4.214,017 million of looted public funds siezed from the associates and family members of former Delta State Governor James Ibori.
This was disclosed Tuesday by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami, SAN.
The AGF had earlier announced that the Federal Government of Nigeria was in touch with the government of the United Kingdom on the matter.
‘Documentations with the banks in different countries often take longer than anticipated. We anticipated two weeks but we are not in control of the banks,’ the statement said.
He maintained that the federal government was working assiduously to make sure that the transfer goes through successfully.
‘There is neither complacency nor any delay as efforts are being made to ensure successful transfer of the looted funds,’he said.
A statement on Tuesday by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu, said the amount has been credited into the designated Federal Government account with naira equivalent value of the amount as of May 10.
The development, according to Malami, is a demonstration of the recognition of reputation Nigeria earns through records of management of recovered stolen assets in the execution of public oriented projects.
Ibori, who was governor between 1999 and 2007, in 2012 pleaded guilty in a UK court to charges of money laundering, conspiracy to defraud and forgery. He was sentenced to an aggregate 13 years jail term.
The Nigerian government had signed an MoU with the UK in 2016 for the repatriation of the funds recovered from family and associates of Ibori laundered to the UK.
The federal government had announced that the funds would be used for the completion of ongoing work on the 2nd Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano and Lagos-Ibadan expressways, which were already being funded by the recovered $311 million Abacha loot.
The AGF disclosed that already a reputable civil society organisation has been incorporated to monitor the use of the funds for the ongoing projects under the management of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
‘It is to be recalled that the Nigerian government had all along provided the required mutual assistance and backup to the British authorities while the prosecution of James Ibori lasted in London and today, we are rightfully taking benefit of that cooperation. I cannot but observe that what we are witnessing today is a glaring manifestation of the agelong national ties between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United Kingdom,’ he said.
However, the position of the federal government has generated controversy with the Delta State Government indicating interest to challenge the use of the funds for the proposed federal government projects.
The state Commissioner for Information, Ehiedu Aniagwu, stated: ‘We would try to take advantage of the legal system to make the federal government correct the injustice they are about to visit on us as a state.
‘If they are quite sure that the funds, they are about to repatriate left Delta State on account of those who have governed the state in the past, on what basis would they now take the money to another place? Under which law?’