The $2.2 billion, part of late Sani Abacha’s loot returned by the World Bank to the country, allegedly shared amongst high ranking officials of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last administration have reopened fresh debates on the whereabouts of over $480 million hidden in European banks by Abacha, which the US Department of Justice said it won right to forfeited in 2014.
Sambo Dazuki, a former National Security Adviser (NSA) to Goodluck Jonathan, the immediate past president, is currently being squeezed by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), for allegedly misappropriating the funds met for the procurement of military hardware and equipments to help fight against Boko Haram terrorist group, responsible for the death of thousand of Nigerians and rendered hundreds homeless in the northeast.
Leslie R. Caldwell, assistant attorney general, US Justice Department, Criminal Division, and Valerie Parlave, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, announced after a judgment was entered on August 6, 2014, by John D. Bates, U.S. District Judge of the District of Columbia, that the Department has forfeited more than $480 million in corruption proceeds hidden in bank accounts around the world by Abacha and his co-conspirators.
The Department explained that the judgment was the result of a civil forfeiture complaint it filed in November 2013 against more than $625 million in the largest ‘kleptocracy’ forfeiture action brought in the department’s history.
“The forfeiture judgment includes approximately $303 million in two bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey, $144 million in two bank accounts in France, and three bank accounts in the United Kingdom and Ireland with an expected value of at least $27 million. The ultimate disposition of the funds will follow the execution of the judgment in each of these jurisdictions. Claims to an additional approximately $148 million in four investment portfolios in the United Kingdom are pending”, Leslie R. Caldwell had said.
She disclosed that Abacha and his finance minister allegedly caused the government of Nigeria to purchase Nigerian government bonds at vastly inflated prices from a company controlled by Bagudu and Mohammed Abacha, the late dictator’s son, generating an illegal windfall of more than $282 million.
“This case was brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, working in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and, where appropriate, to use those recovered assets to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office”, the AAG explained in the announcement.
As at the time of filing in this report the US Department of Justice had yet to reply Naija247news’s email enquiry asking the true position of the looted money the Department said it has taken custodian of in 2014.
But Debo Adeniran, executive chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), lamented in an interview with Naija247news that Nigerians have been left in the dark regarding the true position of the $480 million, saying that it is incumbent on the US government to return the stolen money still in its possession.
“It is the duty of the current FG to ensure that issues surrounding this $480 million are made know to the public and its final destination is known. We don’t even know through position of the recovered money. We were made to believe that the loot has been recuperated. No nation in the world has the right to confiscate the money that does not belong to them because these crimes are committed in their country against our country”, he said.
According to him, if the UN is not going to punish Nigerian leaders who emptied the nation’s treasure and taken abroad, it should forced countries where the stolen monies are being held to repatriate the loot, and that if the looters are staying abroad they should be punished there.
“If they are in Nigeria they should be made to face the music in Nigeria. If the governments of the world want the so call peace that they are craving for to come to fusion, then, they should be able to assist the powerless particular in Sub-Sahara Africa to ensure that their government doesn’t take us for a ride. We need to have the money back. It is not right for us to be kept in the day concerning the $480 million”, he said.
He explained that since the money has not been accounted for by both the US Department of Justice and the Nigerian Government, it must be somewhere unknown to Nigerians, and insists that it is only morally right for western countries to return proven stolen money from country of origin without delay.
Adeleye Adewole, chairman, Centre For Organizational and Professional Ethics (COPEAFRICA), no country in the world should feel proud to be benefiting from the misfortune of other countries, and described the current scenario as ‘man inhumanity to man’.
He said: “It is incumbent on the current regime, if truly they want to repatriate the money, to make it a kind of global campaign for the repatriation of every penny. If we were told by the World Bank that our debts have been forgiven, it couldn’t have been out of the stolen money that was returned to us. They should prove they have the love of surviving countries like ours by returning all our stolen money. Not to return our stolen money and then pretend as if they are doing us a favour”.
He advised that President Buhari should work with allied countries, whether from the west or the east, and ensure the UN is compel to force any country that is still holding Nigeria’s proven stolen money repatriate or at least, make it open so that it can enhance Nigeria’s capacity to manage its own economy.
“President Buhari has a lot of job to do. All the travels, all the tours, all the meetings, must not end in vain. The President must use them to seek global corporation to repatriate all the stolen money that our past leaders have siphoned out of the country and kept in western banks”, he told Naija247news.