Why U.S. is still holding $458m Abacha loot, by AGF

 Gen. Sani Abacha

Gen. Sani Abacha

Another $100m being withheld

A $458 million loot by the late former Head of State, Gen. Sanni Abacha and which the United States government planned to return to the Federal Government will not come now.According to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), the money is being held back because a lawyer is insisting he be paid for representing the government in the suit that led to the forfeiture of the loot.

But another $100 million is being held because individuals associated with Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, are contesting the forfeiture.A statement from the minister’s office signed by his spokesman, Mr. Salihu Othman Isah, revealed: “The forfeiture of the remaining $100 million in assets is still pending. The forfeiture of these assets is being contested by certain individuals, who are related to Atiku Bagudu (General Abacha’s associate) and who claim that these assets are the subject matter of a private family trust.”

The statement which was issued to debunk a media report (not in The Guardian) over how the money was stuck abroad, gave a detailed explanation of how forfeited funds to the U.S. government are returned to owners.

“The United States Department of Justice (USDOJ), which is akin to Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Justice), launched a Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative which is spearheaded by the USDOJ’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS). It comprises a competent team of attorneys, investigators and other experts dedicated to investigating and prosecuting asset recovery cases, recovering stolen assets and returning the same to those victimised by corruption. Since 2004, the USDOJ has confiscated and returned over $168 million to victims abroad.

“Under United States law, asset forfeiture (or confiscation) works in the following manner. The USDOJ identifies stolen and corruptly-obtained assets. It then institutes legal proceedings known as forfeiture proceedings to confiscate such assets. At the end of the forfeiture proceedings, the court orders the assets confiscated to the
United States. Thereupon, the United States returns the assets to the foreign country from which the assets were stolen.

“In 2013, as part of its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, the USDOJ commenced a forfeiture proceeding to confiscate approximately $550 million that had been corruptly obtained by the late Abacha and his associates (the ‘Abacha Case’).

“A portion of the Abacha loot, valued at $458 million, has now been forfeited to the United States. On December 17, 2015, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia entered final judgment forfeiting certain Abacha assets valued at $458 million. The forfeiture proceeding as to those assets is therefore concluded and the forfeited assets are ripe for repatriation to the innocent victim – Nigeria.”

The minister’s office said the obstacle to the release of the huge sum came after a lawyer, Godson Nnaka, filed an appeal against the judgment of forfeiture claiming he is entitled to a portion of the assets as compensation for legal services allegedly rendered to Nigeria.

According to the minister’s office, the US Department of Justice has explained that the “appeal is the only issue delaying repatriation of the forfeited assets to Nigeria.”

“They have explained that the forfeited assets are not located in the United States and that only upon disposition of the appeal would the United States then have a final judgment upon which it can seek the retrieval of the forfeited assets which are frozen in multiple foreign jurisdictions and return same to Nigeria.”



11 Comments
  • Hardtruth Softlies

    The lawyer must be paid for his services…truth really hurts.

  • olayiwola

    And pmb said Abacha was not corrupt!!

  • Okechukwu Mordi

    Can’t they discuss the Lawyer’s fee? FG can and should talk with those delaying the return of the loot transparently. Enough of this Abacha loot long story!

  • godwyns

    Strangely enough, this loot will be returned only to be looted again by the current crop of politicians some of whom have been defending Abacha including Yours ‘Sincerely’ (really?), Mr Buhari. Such a shame.

  • Prince KB

    SOMETIMES I GET CONFUSED WHEN THE AUTHORITIES ARE TALKING ABOUT THE ABACHA LOOT. THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A DELIBARATE AND CONSPICUOUS OMMISSION OF VITAL PEACE OF INFORMATION THE NATION NEEDS TO KNOW. I HARDLY HEAR ANYTHING BEING MENTIONED ABOUT THE ROLE PLAYED BY THE MASTERMIND (ARCHITECT) OF THE LOOTING SAGA.

    No one (including the AGF) is raising the question about how the “Bagudu’s family” acquired that huge sum of money and how it got mixed up with the STOLEN Nigerian Commonwealth. And, does the “family” have records proving that it paid taxes on that money, assuming it came from legitimate business? Which business? Or, did they inherit the money? From whom? Some of us are from the same SMALL town with the Bagudus. When Atiku Bagudu was on exile some years back, he stood up in a court of law in Switzerland and stated, UNDER OATH, that his family (back in our small town of Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State) was so rich that NO ONE IN HIS FAMILY NEEDS TO WORK TO EARN A LIVING. Those of us from Birnin-Kebbi town knew that statement to be the “mother of all lies.”

    But this issue is now in Nigeria, not in Switzerland. Why is the current ANTI-CORRUPTION government officials (especially the AGF who also happens to be from the same SMALL town of Birnin-Kebbi) NOT raising any alarm on the ACTUAL source of the “family’s” $100 Million Dollars? Some people are suggesting that the APATHY and IMPUNITY are coming because Sen. Bagudu (Kebbi State Governor) is in the APC, and not PDP. I don’t want to believe that, for now. But I assure you that how this case ends will be a TEST CASE for APC’s CORRUPTION FIGHTING CLAIM. The whole nation is watching with keen interest!

  • chiemex

    PMB said Abacha is not kworopt. So stealing $458m is not corruption?

    • PolyGon2013

      Perhaps PMB did not have enough information at the time. If PMB still believes that Abacha is not corrupt, there won’t be any case now! Got it?

  • Ogbonnaya Okike

    Is Sani Abacha corrupt because he is dead and his surrogates are powerless?

  • Dejoe

    Does it mean Abacha loot never finishes? How come Abacha emptied CBN and yet, those after him had enough to keep them going till date? I’m just imagining how large and untouchable Abacha would have lived had he been alive today. Nigeria is cursed with poor leadership. That yoke must be broken, when the people decides and unite.

  • Military rule returns

    Bt Abacha was never corrupt according o PMB. So wich money is Malami looking for. IDIOTS

  • Igodomigo Suleman

    IS IT NOT AMAZING THAT THE CURRENT GOVERNOR OF KEBBI STATE, ATIKU BAGUDU WAS ABACHA PARTNER IN CRIME AND CONDUIT THROUGH WHICH THESE STOLEN FUNDS WAS LAUNDERED ABROAD. DO YOU NEED TO BE TOLD WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN HAPPENING TO KEBBI STATE ACCOUNT? ONCE A CRIMINAL ALWAYS A CRIMINAL. DO YOU SEE THE KIND OF “PATRIOTIC” LEADERS WE HAVE HAD OVER THE YEARS THAT HAVE GIVEN US QUANTON RETROGRESSION? TOMORROW THIS ALHAJI ATIKU WILL ASPIRE TO BE THE PRESIDENT OF THIS COUNTRY AND THOUSANDS WILL LINE UP CHANTING HE IS THE MAN THE “CAPS FITS” AND YOU THINK WE WILL EVER GO FORWARD? THEARTONEY GENERAL SHOULD FILE CHARGES AGAINST THIS GOVERNOR.

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