By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Alhaji Abubakar Malami, Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, has disclosed that United States of America is set to return to Nigeria, some public funds stashed in that country under the Sani Abacha administration valued at $458 million.
Comrade Isah made this known on Sunday.
According to him, in 2013, as part of the US’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, the US Department of Justice commenced a forfeiture proceeding to confiscate approximately $550 million that had been corruptly obtained by late General Abacha and his associates (the “Abacha Case”).
He disclosed that a portion of the funds valued at $458m had now been forfeited to the United States, adding that 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.
He said the forfeiture proceeding on those assets had been concluded and the forfeited assets were ripe for repatriation to Nigeria.
Comrade Isah added that a US-Nigerian lawyer, Godson Nnaka, had filed an appeal against the judgment of forfeiture claiming to be entitled to a portion of the assets as compensation for legal services allegedly rendered to Nigeria.
The US however said the forfeited assets were not located in the United States and that only upon disposition of the appeal would it then have a final judgment upon which it could seek the retrieval of the forfeited assets which were frozen in multiple foreign jurisdictions and return same to Nigeria.