Falana Asks FG to Recover $200bn Stolen Fund from Looters

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Cautions against $2bn Chinese loans Threatens court action against FG
Gboyega Akinsanmi
A human rights lawyers, Mr. Femi Falana, on Sunday asked the federal government to recover $200 billion criminally diverted by a handful of local and foreign looters rather than borrowing $2 billion from China.

Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), added that he would be left with no option other than “to initiate legal proceedings at the Federal High Court with a view to restraining the federal government from further plunging the nation into external indebtedness.”

He made the demand in a statement he issued yesterday, calling on the federal government “to muster the political will and courage to recover the stolen wealth of not less than $200 billion belonging to Nigerians.”

In a letter dated February 12, Falana had written the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to jettison the plan to take a loan of $2.5 billion from the World Bank and $1 billion from the African Development Bank (AfDB).

In the letter, the senior advocate urged the federal government “to explore alternative sources of raising revenue to fund the 2016 budget instead of increasing the nation’s external debt of $64 billion.”

He also asked the federal government “to embark on the recovery of the revenue of $42 billion  withheld from the Federation Account from 1999 to 2012 by some transnational oil companies, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other federal government agencies.”

In a response to his request on March 17, the senior advocate said the Buhari administration promised that the issues raised in his first letter were receiving the attention of the federal government.

 Contrary to the assurance it gave in March 17, Falana expressed shock that the federal government had already had applied “to the Chinese Government for another loan of $2 billion.”
On this ground, he asked the federal government to desist from taking the loan of $2 billion from China or any other country, thereby urging the government “to recover the country’s wealth which has been criminally diverted by a handful of local and foreign looters.”

Falana requested the federal government “to direct the relevant agencies and the anti-graft bodies to collect the national wealth criminally diverted by a handful of local and foreign looters.

“If you refuse to accede to our request, we shall have no other alternative than to initiate legal proceedings at the Federal High Court with a view to restraining the federal government from further plunging the nation into external indebtedness,” he said.

Falana thus asked the federal government to recover a sum of $20.2 billion, which he said, had been withheld by the NNPC, some oil companies and certain agencies of the federal government.
In 2006, he said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) “apportioned $7 billion out of the nation’s external reserves to 14 Nigerian banks. In 2008, the CBN also gave a bailout of N600 billion ($4 billion) to the banks. The indebted banks should be asked to repay the $11 billion loan.”

He added that the NNPC announced that arrangements had been concluded “to recover the sum of $9.6 billion in over-deducted tax benefits from joint venture partners on major capital projects and oil swap contracts. Since the NNPC is said to have recovered the said sum of $9.6 billion it should be remitted into the Federation Account.

 “Sometime in 2009, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited applied to the federal government for the renewal of three oil blocks. Upon granting the application, the NNPC asked Mobil to pay the sum of $2.5 billion for the renewal of the licences.

 “Curiously, the $600 million paid by the Mobil was accepted by the federal government. One of our clients has requested the EFCC to investigate the circumstances surrounding the fraudulent transaction. The outstanding sum of $1.9 billion ought to be collected from Mobil  and paid into the federation account.”