The Nigerian government has dragged UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) to court over €180 million (£150 million) funds that was looted abroad by late former Head of State Gen. Sani Abacha.
According to United Kingdom’s Telegraph, the case was raising questions about dirty money being circulated in the city of London.
By yesterday’s official exchange rate of the British Pounds Sterling at N563, as seen on the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the money in contention is about N84.5 billion.
Recall the in May 2020, the federal government confirmed that they had received $311 million looted funds.
In the latest legal tussle over the money, generally known in Nigeria as “Abacha loot”, the report stated that Nigeria wanted the crime-fighting agency, NCA, to release funds that it froze at the request of US authorities.
In May 2020, the federal government confirmed the receipt of $311 million looted by a late dictator, Abacha, repatriated from the United States and Island of Jersey.
It came after the recovery of $322 million from Switzerland in 2018.
At the time, Malami noted that the government had committed that the asset would support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria, namely, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Road, and Second Niger Bridge.
It was estimated that from 2007 to 2020, about $1.5 billion had been returned to Nigeria from different parts of the world.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, stated that the funds would be dedicated to three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria, namely, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Road, and Second Niger Bridge.
The amount increased significantly from over $308 million to over $311 million because of the interest that accrued from February 3, 2020, to 28th April, 2020, when the fund was transferred to the CBN.”
A total of $1.5 billion looted funds was returned from different part of the world to Nigeria from 2007 to 2020″
The tussle began when the United States decided to return the funds in a scheme called the Kleptocracy Initiative. But this did not sit well with the Federal Government and they decided to side step the process and obtain the funds directly through an application to the High Court, in a move opposed by UK and US authorities.
The report by the publication states in part: “It is a complicated story with many twists and turns. But the on-going struggle for ‘Abacha’s loot’ reveals the difficulty in recovering stolen funds, the frustrations of law enforcement, and the way people accused of corruption have relied on respectable law firms to argue their cases in coupart”
Uk hired Kingsley Napley, a London law firm to represent them. The firm and the NCA have refused to comment on the ongoing case.
However, Jonathan Benton, a former NCA senior detective said the case shows the difficulty in reclaiming Abacha’s loots
He said: “I care passionately about tackling corruption and it is important we hold people to account.
“But it can be a challenging and drawn-out process and sometimes you have to be pragmatic. In those situations, the law allows you to negotiate. It is repugnant. But Nigeria desperately needs the money that abacha stole.”
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