OPINION: Anti-Graft War, Loot Recovery And Economic DevelopmentAfrican News, Articles/Opinion, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Tuesday, February 11th, 2020
By Jide Ayobolu
(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Federal Government is set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Island of Jersey and the United States to repatriate looted assets. To this end, the federal cabinet yesterday asked the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to sign tripartite assets sharing agreement on behalf of the country to repatriate additional $321m (N116.04bn) looted by the Late former military Head of State, Sani Abacha. Malami, who briefed State House correspondents after a seven-hour first FEC meeting in 2020 chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, said the funds would be used to finance Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano Expressway, and the Second Niger Bridge. He said the MoU expected to be signed next week would also cover assets or funds recovered from James Ibori, Diezani Allison-Madueke, and Kola Aluko among others.
He said: “It is in line with that spirit of aggressive recovery of looted assets that the office of attorney general has been pursuing the recovery of looted assets. We have overtime been discussing with other jurisdictions including Island of Jersey and the United States among for the purpose of the repatriation of looted assets connected to Abacha family, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Kolawole Aluko among others.
“It is within this context that we have now come to terms with this jurisdiction – the Island of Jersey, United States of America and indeed Nigeria by way of negotiating for the repatriation of a sizable asset. “As it is, we have concluded on the understanding that the sum of $321 million will be repatriated in due course inclusive of James Ibori assets as well. “So, we are hopeful that by next week, we will sign the agreement for the looted assets. The assets that are going to be repatriated is located and in the custody of Island of Jersey. But the United States of America came on board because it has obtained an order for forfeiture against the assets, considering that the medium of exchange used in the looting the assets is the US dollar. Arising from that, the three jurisdictions will naturally be factored into the repatriation processes.
“So, the amount upon signing the MoU will be remitted from the Inland of Jersey within a number of days agreed upon. Within 28 days, the money will be repatriated from the Island of Jersey to the United States of America. And thereafter within 45 days, it is agreed by the parties that the United States of America will make the necessary arrangement for the eventual repatriation to the Nigerian state. “This is where we are. The council has looked into the negotiated MoU that is expected to be signed that will now lay the foundation for the eventual repatriation of the money.
The council has graciously approved the execution of the agreement. The council instructed the attorney general of the federation to be a signatory to that MoU in preparation of the repatriation of the funds.” When asked about the figure of the amount to be repatriated attached to each individual mentioned, Malami said: “The immediate figure for repatriation as relates to the agreement expected to be signed next week is $321 million. The $321 million expected to be repatriated is attached to Abacha and is named Abacha loot.
“As it relates to James Ibori, the expected amount is €6,863,977.12. But the repatriation of same is being negotiated and processed. On the sharing agreement, the minister said, “America and the Island of Jersey are simply entitled to administrative cost, associated with the management of funds. So, $10 million was indeed what was earmarked to the two countries and the balance of $321 million is coming to Nigeria.”Speaking on the difference between this Abacha loot and the one linked to the Swiss authorities, he said: “That of the Swiss authorities was $322 million and has been fully repatriated and applied in the funding of the budget over the time. So, this is distinct and separate amount.”
This government is committed to prudently managing and stopping waste and leakages in the system, there will be no room for duplication of offices and responsibility; the Buhari led government has shown that it is its desire that everybody benefits from the goodies that the change mantra will bring to the country and not just a few people.
The Buhari led government has been working round the clock to ensure that the suffering of Nigerians is assuaged and ameliorated, by laying a solid foundation for a greater and better tomorrow. The campaign of calumny against the government of President Buhari has been largely predicated on ethnicity and tribal particularism as well as politics of vendetta, especially by the opposition party that roundly defeated at the polls after many years of misrule, bad governance and monumental fraud. The other point which cannot be waved aside is the fact that one of the cardinal policies of this administration is the war against corruption, and since this government came on board, never like before, it has consistently waged relentless war against graft in the country; and the high and mighty are not spared; now in a surreptitious manner, corruption is fighting back in a very dirty and desperate manner. It is germane to observe and rightly so that, since the present administration came on board under the leadership and watch of President Muhammadu Buhari, the president and his team has worked relentlessly to bail out the economy from the recession in which it is presently enmeshed, an economic situation which is self-inflicted as a result of bad governance, mismanagement, corruption and apparent lack of accountability of past leaders in the country. They dissipated the scarce financial resources of the country on conspicuous consumption as well as hedonistic and epicurean lifestyles; and refused to save for the raining day.
It is this multifaceted errors of the past that the present government is trying to put right, unfortunately, the present government has been severally criticized by those who created the economic challenges in the first place, particularly members of the past administration, who mercilessly plunder and pillage the resources of the country on selfish individual desires, thereby neglecting vast majority of the people. With the body language and mannerism of some members of the present administration, it is obvious that they are not on the same page with the president in truly salvaging the country from economic ruination and quagmire. For instance, members of the circulating and ruling elite, with all their economic preachments and sanctimonious claims, they have rapaciously refused to cut down on their illegal and immoral fat salaries and allowances, yet, they want Nigerians to make sacrifices, while they feed fat on the sweat and toil of Nigerians. As the government is working hard to resolve the fundamental economic contradictions with the economy, people who have illegitimately enriched themselves by pilfering the national treasury and are presently undergoing trials, are clandestinely sponsoring violence against the Nigerian state and painting the country black in both local and international media.
This is contrary to some spurious and erroneous claims in some quarters that this government is idle and doing nothing about the socio-economic miasma in which the country is presently enmeshed, unfortunately, this unfounded and baseless claim is gaining currency because of the hardship Nigerians are presently going through. Those who created these problems are now behaving like the much-needed messiah to rescue the country from this crisis, but what did they do for the country and the people in the last 16 years? The gang-up and conspiracy against the Buhari led government are because of the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration, hence, their inability to make cheap money and fleece the country of funds needed for development. Undoubtedly, this government is working hard and even world leaders know this fact, hence the need for all Nigerians to rally round the government and move the country forward; and stop the issue of violence, blackmail, vendetta, corruption and anything that can inhibit growth and development in the polity.
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