Jersey bank to return looted $300m by Abacha to Nigeria

Mohammed Awal Feb 5, 2020 at 11:00am

February 05, 2020 at 11:00 am | News

Mohammed Awal

Mohammed Awal

February 05, 2020 at 11:00 am | News

Sani Abacha. Image: Premium Times

The government of Jersey, a self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom in the Channel Islands between England and France, is set to return more than $300 million seized from Nigeria’s former dictator Sani Abacha.

The whopping amount which was recovered from a Jersey bank account belonging to shell company Doraville in June 2019 will be used to fund three major infrastructure projects in Nigeria, Channelstv reports.

This comes after Nigeria signed an agreement with the United States of America and Island of Jersey for the repatriation of the sum of $318,460,329 looted by Abacha during his military regime in the 1990s.

The money was laundered through the US under the presidency of Sani Abacha in the 1990s, before being transferred to the Channel Island, the BBC reports citing Jersey’s Civil Asset Recovery Fund.

The governments of Nigeria, the US and Jersey signed the agreement this week and as part of the repatriation deal Jersey will retain $5m and the US is eligible for the same.

Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami signed the tripartite agreement on behalf of Nigeria.

Speaking to reporters he said the agreement would hasten the return of the loot to Nigeria, stressing that the funds would be invested in infrastructure development in the country.

“By the agreement of the parties, the looted assets will be deployed into construction of roads, including the Abuja -Kano Expressway, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and indeed the Second Niger Bridge,” the Vanguard quoted him as saying.

“It is a clear demonstration of the accountability and transparency of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.

‘’It’s a clear demonstration that the international confidence is further restored dealing with Nigeria as it relates with transparency and accountability, taking into consideration that before now in 2018, we have recovered $322 million from Switzerland on the understanding that the funds should be deployed to social investment programme for which it was targeted,” Malami added.

Premium Times reports that the amount is the largest single asset repatriation the Jersey Island has undertaken, and among the largest in the world.

This is the latest in a series of other funds stolen by Mr. Abacha and his family, repatriated from Europe and the United States, which the Nigerian media now describes as the Abacha loot.

Meanwhile, the United States has urged that the soon to be repatriated money must be placed in a secured account by the Nigerian government. 

Nigeria would be required to replace the fund if it is stolen from the account, the United States warned.

“To ensure that the funds are used responsibly and for the good of the nation, the agreement includes mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of these projects as well as external oversight, and it requires Nigeria to repay any funds lost as a result of any new corruption or fraud to the account established to hold the returned assets. 

“This return reflects the growing international consensus that countries must work together to ensure stolen assets are returned in a transparent and accountable manner.

“This agreement is a symbol of the weight that the United States government places on the fight against corruption,” the spokesperson for the US State Department, Morgan Ortagus said.

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