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FG, UK sign MoU on return of £4.2m Ibori loot

  • Malami: Why Delta won’t benefit from recovery

 

 

The Federal Government yesterday concluded negotiations with the Government of United Kingdom for the return of £4.2 million to Nigeria allegedly looted by a former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

 

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) disclosed this in Abuja at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) earlier executed by the two governments in 2016.

 

According to him, the Nigerian Government had all along provided the required mutual assistance and backup to the British authorities while the prosecution of Ibori lasted in London.

 

“We are rightfully taking benefit of that cooperation. I cannot but observe that what we are witnessing today is a glaring manifestation of the age-long national ties between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

 

 

“We are at the threshold of another major milestone in our determined quest as a nation to attain full recovery of all looted assets, prevent abuse of recovered assets and also to ensure optimal utilization of such recovered assets for the benefit of our deserving citizens.”

 

Malami expressed confidence that both the Nigerian and British governments remain committed to all affirmative actions to combat corruption/illicit financial flows, ensure that looters do not find comfort or safe haven in our territories and also to guarantee that the forfeited or recovered proceeds of corruption are deployed to the benefit of the masses.

 

“Hence, in consonance with existing framework or model engaged in the management of previous recoveries, the Federal Executive Council, under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that the instant repatriated funds should be deployed towards the completion of the following legacy projects: the Second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano expressway and the Lagos- Ibadan expressway under the coordination of the Nigeria Social Investment Authority (NSIA) to ensure integrity of the process while a reputable Civil Society Organization has been engaged to monitor/supervise the expenditure of the recovered funds on the execution of these critical projects which are evenly spread across the country.”

 

 

Speaking at the event, Ms Catriona Laing, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, said ill-gotten money is not welcome in the UK. Laing said the MoU will see the return of over £4.2 million recovered from the associates and family of Ibori to the Nigerian government.

 

“The return of these assets to Nigeria has been subject to a number of hard fought legal challenges by third parties which were defeated in the UK courts.

 

“We will ensure the full weight of law enforcement to crack down those who use, move or hide their proceeds of crime in the UK,” she said. The envoy said that transparent asset recovery is priority for both UK and   Nigeria governments. It would be recalled that in February 2012, Ibori pleaded guilty in a UK court to money laundering, conspiracy to defraud and forgery and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

 

Some of his associates and family members also received sentences for similar offences. Meanwhile, the Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has declared that Delta State Government will not benefit from the £4.2 million loot recovered from Ibori. He said the fund is meant for the Nigerian state.

 

Speaking on Channels Television programme, Politics Today, on Tuesday, Malami said the agreement consummated by British Government and the Federal Government over the repatriated funds was for the Nigerian state as a victim of crime and not Delta State Government. Malami noted that the Federal Government is still working with UK government to recover over £95 million looted by Ibori.

 

The minister also confirmed that his office has not instituted or file any court action in the land relating to Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State.

 

“The office of the attorney general and its arm, which is the office of the director of public prosecution has not initiated any proceedings and no investigations are instituted at its instance by any agency of the government be it EFCC and indeed the Code of Conduct,” he said.

 

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