By John Okeke
The Nigerian Government, the United States and the Island of Jersey-a British enclave, have signed a tripartite agreement to help repatriate another tranche of over $300 million funds allegedly looted by Nigeria’s late former Head of State, Sani Abacha, back to Nigeria.
This was revealed at the ongoing 5th Session of the US-Nigeria Binational Commission (BNC) holding at the US Department of State in Washington DC, United States, as part of measures to deepen the war against corruption and asset recovery to Nigeria.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, who is leading the Nigerian delegation to the session, told reporters in an interview that the legal processes are ongoing to bring back the looted assets even as he recalled that a similar process in 2018, led to the recovery and repatriation of $322 million allegedly stashed away by the late Abacha, which is better known as ‘Abacha loot’.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who signed the tripartite agreement on behalf of Nigeria, told reporters in an interview that the pact will hasten the return of the loot back to Nigeria, stressing that the funds will be invested in infrastructure development in the country.
“By the agreement of the parties, the looted assets will be deployed into construction of roads inclusive of the Abuja -Kano Express way, Lagos-Ibadan Express way and indeed the Second Niger Bridge,” he said.
Malami noted that the most important aspect of the agreement was the clear demonstration of the belief of the international community in the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari to claim Nigeria’s looted funds stashed away in various banks in the West and other parts of the world.
“It is a clear demonstration of the accountability and transparency of the President Muhammadu Buhari 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,” he ad
Also, a source within the US Statement Department, who preferred anonymity, said “the US will continue to support the Nigerian Government in the war against corruption as well as other key areas of focus of the Binational Commission, which includes; the fight against terrorism, democracy and good governance, economic development and food security.”
The two- day 5th Session of the Binational Commission, which commenced on Monday, will be concluded today, Tuesday.