Ejiofor Alike and Nume Ekeghe
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, and the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mr. Uche Orji, yesterday disclosed that the fresh $308 million forfeited assets to Nigeria would be received in April.
While Orji spoke on Arise News, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, Malami spoke on Channels TV.
The funds were held in bank accounts in Jersey in the name of Doraville Properties Corporation, a BVI company, and in the name of the son of a former Head of State of Nigeria, the late General Sani Abacha.
Malami had on Tuesday signed a tripartite agreement on behalf of the federal government with the US and the Island of Jersey to repatriate the funds.
Speaking on Channels TV in a telephone interview, Malami said, “Every other thing is set and fully consummated in terms of the agreement amongst the entrusted parties – the Island of Jersey, United States and the Federal Government of Nigeria. The agreement has been signed and executed and we are looking forward towards the repatriation of the looted money.
When asked how fast the money would come , the minister said , “The money as it is, is in the custody of Island of Jersey where it was deposited.
“So, that brings about the parties of interest to be the Island of Jersey where the money was stashed, the USA which initiated the judicial process for the repatriation of the money and Nigeria which is indeed the victim; So, the common agreement that was reached is that within 27 days , the money will leave the custody of Island of Jersey down to the USA and within 45 days the money will be repatriated to Nigeria.
“We are looking at around 72 days from Tuesday when the tripartite agreement was signed and executed by the party.”
The money is expected to be used on three major projects; the Lagos -Ibadan Expressway, the Abuja – Kano Expressway, and the Second Niger Bridge.
Speaking on the recovered loot when he featured on the ‘Morning Show,’ on Arise Television, Orji confirmed that the fund will be received in April, adding that enhanced governance would be put in place once the fund is received.
He also commended the federal government’s efforts in recovering the fund, saying it would aid the timely completion of the projects tied to it.
Orji added: “The $308 million that was announced is to be channeled to the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Abuja- Kano highway and the second Niger bridge.
“And there are all sorts of scrutiny and supervision attached to this, given the external funding nature.
“The current decision to transfer this fund to these projects should give some level of comfort. That was not just done yesterday, the government has been involved in these discussions before the NSIA was asked to participate in the negotiations.”
He added: “With the Abacha funds, there is an enhanced level of governance beyond what we have today which I believe is transparent and world-class.
“So, there are all sorts of requirements to ensure that everything is done transparent and openly. We are expecting these funds sometime in April and all the enhance governance would be in place.”
He further added that the NSIA got involved in negotiations in June 2018, saying that since then there has been a lot of due diligence across the entire three projects listed in the agreement.
He said: “In terms of timing for completion, we are still looking at 2022 for the three projects.”