UPDATED: Abacha Loot: Jersey Island gives conditions for return

UPDATED: Abacha Loot: Jersey Island gives conditions for return

Hope of early repatriation of Abacha loot appears slim as government of Jersey Island insists that the Abacha loot would not be released to Nigeria if a third party representation is brought into the picture.

Recall that Federal Executive Council ( FEC) had last week given the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to sign the Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) for the repatriation of the loot.

The approval was granted by the Federal Executive Council ( FEC ) at the meeting Presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.

The approval followed the conclusion of negotiations between Nigeria and the Jersey Islands, while the FEC nod was necessary for the ascent which will be done at the Global Forum on Assets Recovery in December, in Washington

The repatriation of the funds was part of the measures considered and adopted at the London Anti-Corruption Summit in May, 2016
Since then, Nigeria had mounted strong pressures on the international community to help fast tract the procedure for the return of the Abacha loots enable Nigeria meet the sustainable development goals

According to Malami: “A memo has been presented to council this afternoon by the office of the Attorney General which is intended to shift focus to international recovery, before going into the memo, I think it is important to bring to your attention that recently, about a week ago, succeeded in recovering 85million dollars relating to Malabu issues from U.K.”

“And now, there exist a forum, that is Global Assets Recovery Forum taking place in December, in US and we are looking towards that, we are in agreement substantially with Swiss for the recovery of additional sum of 321million dollars.”

The MoU, BusinessDay gathered has been substantially agreed upon between Nigeria and Swiss, even as Malami added that ” It is to now time to execute or to sign off the agreement during the global forum on assets recovery coming up December.”

But the Minister of Justice of the Jersey Island,Robert J. MacRae QC who spoke at meeting with the Nigeria delegation led by acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, during the on going 7th Session of Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, holding in Vienna, Austria., insisted that it will not honour a third party representation from Nigeria.

The Jersey Attorney General expressly stated that negotiations in respect of repatriation of the USD300 million being part of the Abacha involving Jersy, Nigeria and the United States, “must be government to government cooperation”.

Nigeria had earlier been elected Vice Chair of the 7th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the UNCCA.

The development was credited to President Muhammadu Buhari for the determined efforts of his administration in the fight against corruption.

Nigeria was on November 6, 2017 elected the Vice Chairman of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The election which was ratified by all the African countries participating at the 5-day conference in Vienna, Austria, according to the President of the session, Thelma Aldana, is a boost in Nigeria’s efforts at nipping corruption in the bud.

Her words: “It is an election well deserved. Nigeria has demonstrated remarkable determination in the fight against corruption, the election into this exaltic position is therefore a boost” Issues discussed at today’s proceedings included: understanding the links between corruption and violent extremism, citizens engagement in fighting against corruption”

“The elephant in the room: Addressing corruption linked to wildlife crime; UNCAC and integrity, transparency and anti corruption preventive policies; Fostering partnerships to fast track UNCAC implementation and Putting the Marrakech Declaration on the prevention of corruption into practice: implementing robust Anti-gay Corruption frameworks and bodies.”

Nigeria’s delegation led by Ambassador Vivian Okeke, Nigerian Ambassador to Austria, included: Ambassador I. Akabogun Chinwuba, acting Under Secretary, Regions and International Organisations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Ibrahim Magu, acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

In a related development, theEconomic and Financial Crimes Commission will on December 7 arraign a former Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, and eight others before the Federal High Court in Abuja on money laundering charges involving diversion of N2bn from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser.

The defendants were scheduled to be arraigned before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba on Tuesday but the arraignment was re-scheduled to December 7 due to the unavailability of the judge who was said to be attending a training organised for some judges in the country.

A statement by the EFCC Spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren said Otunla was absent from court on Tuesday, even as one of his co-defendant, Otunba Ade Adelakun, was however present in court.

The rest of the six defendants are companies said to have benefited from the N2bn withdrawn from ONSA account with the Central Bank of Nigeria

The companies named as co-defendants are Gold Reef Industries Limited, Lambster Nigeria Limited, G.C Electronic Limited, Sinmilak Nigeria Limited, Wehsac Farms Limited, Shepherded Field Global Resources Limited and Stellavera Development Company Limited.

The EFCC, in the five counts filed against Otunla and others on October 11, 2017, accused the defendants of transferring the sum of N2bn from ONSA account with the Central Bank of Nigeria between June and August 2013.

The anti-corruption agency alleged that the defendants withdrew the money from ONSA account purportedly for the supply of security equipment.

 

Tony Ailemen, Abuja

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