By Ebere Agozie/Abuja
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Catriona Laing, has sent a message to Nigerian kleptocrats: their ill–gotten money is not welcome in the UK.
Laing, made this known on Tuesday, during the signing ceremony of an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UK and Nigeria for the return of former Gov. James Ibori’s confiscated assets from the UK at the Ministry of Justice.
She said the MoU will see the return of over £4.2million pounds 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 proceed of crime in the UK”.
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.
The Commissioner said that transparent asset recovery is priority for both UK and Nigeria governments.
“It is vital that this agreement makes strong provision for transparency, monitoring and accountability.
” It is a guiding principle of both UK and Nigerian governments that stolen assets should be used for projects that benefit Nigeria’s poor”, she said.
Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said the federal government is committed to ensuing the transparent management of all recovered assets.
“The assets returned will support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria.
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