The United States Embassy in Nigeria has revealed that there’s another $319m (N121bn) stolen by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha in the United Kingdom and France.
The US embassy disclosed this three days after $311m looted by the former head of state was repatriated from the US and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
The statement read, “The funds returned last week are distinct and separate from an additional $167m in stolen assets also forfeited in the United Kingdom and France, as well as $152m still in active litigation in the United Kingdom.”
A report by Bloomberg stated that the UK and the US government are challenging the repatriation of the funds because of the alleged plan by the Nigerian government to transfer $110m out of the money to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu.
The report said, “The U.S. Department of Justice says Bagudu was involved in corruption with Abacha”.
The report further stated that the Federal Government is seeking the approval of a UK court to take ownership of the funds before transferring 70% of the proceeds to Bagudu under the terms of an agreement signed in 2018.
However, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami has denied the allegations, saying Bagudu’s assets are not covered under the agreement which the federal government signed to recover funds looted by Abacha.
According to the US Department of Justice, Bagudu was part of a network controlled by Abacha that “embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria.”
An estimate of $5 billion is said to have been looted from Nigeria during Abacha’s rule.
While billions of dollars stolen by Abacha have been repatriated by successive governments in Nigeria, Buhari’s administration has said it is prevented from assisting the US’ ongoing forfeiture efforts by an agreement between Bagudu and the Obasanjo’s government in 2003.
According to US court filings, the 2003 settlement, which was approved by a UK court, allowed Bagudu to return $163 million to Nigeria “without admitting to wrongdoing.
In 2009, Bagudu was elected a senator. He became the governor of Kebbi state six years later.
Meanwhile, the US has said that the $311m that was recently repatriated to Nigeria must be used by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority for three infrastructure projects in strategic economic zones across Nigeria.