There is fresh $319m loot of Ex- Head of States, General Sani Abacha, in France and the United Kingdom, the United States has declared.
According to the US, about $167million of the loot is in France while UK has $152million of Abacha assets, it added.
The United States however stated the $152million loot in the UK is a subject of litigation.
In a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, the US said: “The funds returned last week are distinct and separate from an additional $167million in stolen assets also forfeited in the United Kingdom and France, as well as $152million still in active litigation in the United Kingdom.
The repatriation of the $152million (now $155m due to interest) to Nigeria is being challenged by the UK and the US because of alleged plans by the Nigerian government to give $110m out of the money to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, a known associate of the late Abacha, Bloomberg reported.
Nigeria is seeking the approval of a UK court to take ownership of the assets before returning 70 percent of the proceeds to Bagudu under the terms of a 2018 deal, according to Bloomberg.
The UK government’s National Crime Agency is also “opposing the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s application,” according to a motion filed by Bagudu’s brother, Ibrahim, to the District Court for the District of Columbia in the US capital on March 30.
The US Department of Justice said in February that its Nigerian counterpart is hindering its efforts to recover the allegedly laundered money from the UK.
This is coming barely 48 hours after the government received $311million received $311,797,866.11 recovered assets of General Sani Abacha repatriated from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
The Attorney-General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who confirmed this on Monday in a statement by the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations at his office, Dr Umar Gwandu.
According to Malami, the amount increased significantly from over $308 million mentioned in an earlier statement in February to over $311million as a result of the interest that accrued from February 3 to April 28, when the fund was transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He noted that the litigation process for the return of the assets titled ‘Abacha III’ commenced in 2014 while the diplomatic process that culminated in the signing of the Asset Return Agreement commenced in 2018.
The agreement was signed on February 3 by the governments of Nigeria, the United States, and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
“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,” he said.
According to the statement, the recovery effort consolidates on the record of the Muhammadu Buhari administration which has a history of recovery of $322m from Switzerland in 2018.
It added that the recovered loots were transparently and judiciously deployed in supporting indigent Nigerians as specified in the agreement signed with Switzerland and the World Bank.
Malami, who led the negotiation team, noted that the tripartite agreement and the process towards the implementation represented a major watershed in International Asset Recovery and Repatriation as it sought to provide benefit to the victims of corr
He said, “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 insisted that the latest recovery would support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria – Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Road, and the Second Niger Bridge.
He revealed that the government was in the process of establishing a Project Monitoring Team to oversee the implementation of the projects and report regularly on progress made to the public.
In order to ensure transparent management of the returned assets, Malami said the government would 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.
He noted that the process for the engagement of the CSO monitor has already commenced with the adverts placed in two local newspapers.
The recovered funds, according to the minister, were laundered through the U.S. banking system and then held in bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey.