By Alex Enumah
Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Monday disclosed that the federal government will any moment from now be in possession of the the sum of £2.4 million recovered from associates of former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori.
The expected funds have brought the Delta State Government in conflict with the federal government which had already decided the funds would be spent on three of its priority projects.
Delta State Government and people have been clamouring that the funds be given the state since it was stolen from the state or at best be expended on projects in Delta State that would be of benefit to Deltans.
The federal government and the Government of United Kingdom had on March 9, this year announced that modalities were being perfected to repatriate the funds to Nigeria within two weeks.
However, Malami, in a statement on Monday while hinting that the funds would soon hit the accounts of the federal government blamed the delay on some documentations relating to international financial transactions.
The statement signed by his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, said, “sometimes when a country transfers funds, it may take a little bit time more than expected due to some documentations”.
He however assured that the general public will be informed once the money is received and confirmed.
“Documentations with the banks in different countries often take longer than anticipated. We anticipated two weeks but we are not in control of the banks,” he said, adding that the federal government is working assiduously to make sure that the transfer goes through successfully.
“There is neither complacency nor any delay as efforts are being made to ensure successful transfer of the looted funds,” he said.
The funds would be the first of seized assets to be returned by the UK under the UK-Nigeria MOU entered in 2016.
Ibori, had in 2012 pleaded guilty to money laundering and other charges in a UK court and was consequently sentenced to 13 years imprisonment.
Some of his family members and associates were convicted and also sentenced to prison over similar charges.
However, the federal government in the 2016 MOU has been pursuing the return of the monies and others in the UK to Nigeria.
The AGF had described the signing of the MoU as “another major milestone in our determined quest as a nation to attain full recovery of all looted assets, prevent abuse of recovered assets and also to ensure optimal utilization of such recovered assets for the benefit of our deserving citizens”.