The federal government may be confiscating the fund returned from the United Kingdom (UK) traced to former Governor James Ibori of Delta State as looted money when he was governor of Delta State. Accordingly, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Tuesday explained why the federal government will not return the loot recovered from former Governor James Ibori to Delta State but rather will be used for federal projects.
Malami had earlier on Tuesday in collaboration with the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, acknowledged the return of £4.2 million recovered from Mr. Ibori and his friends by the United Kingdom.
The AGF said that the fund which is expected to arrive in Nigeria in two weeks, will be used for the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja–Kano road, and Lagos–Ibadan Expressway; saying that it will not returned to the Delta State Government where it was stolen from.
Malami had pointed out that “the major consideration relating to who is entitled to a fraction or perhaps the money in its entirety is a function of law and international diplomacy.”
The Minister stated that the law that was alleged to have been breached by Ibori was a federal law and that the parties of interests involved in the repatriation of the funds were national and not sub-national governments.
Malami insisted that, “all the processes associated with the recovery were consummated by the federal government and the federal government is, indeed, the victim of crime and not sub-national.”
The Minister said that it is not the duty of the British government to determine what the recovered fund would be spent. He argued that it is not “a matter of insistence but a matter of negotiation between two sovereign states.”
After a UK court convicted Ibori in 2012 on pleading guilty to 10 charges of fraud and money laundering, negotiations for the repatriation of the looted assets took over seven years. Malami explained that the “judicial processes” require all appeals to be exhausted before final forfeiture is granted; adding: “This hampered the speedy recovery of the looted assets.”
The AGF disclosed that the federal government is pursuing the recovery of other looted assets, including more Ibori assets of over £100 million.
Apparently, Delta State government, the primary source of the recovered looted find would be denied the returned find according to Malami’s explanation.
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