Repatriated Abacha loot is not your pocket money — US cautioned Buhari

Abacha may be no more, but his loots is still causing problems in today's Nigeria.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

/ by National Pivot

Things aren't going so well for Nigeria with oil revenue dwindling, and debt profile reaching alarming levels since the Buhari administration came to power. Calls to diversify the economy and cut governance cost didn't make sense to the current government either.

Yet, with the borrowings and donated funds especially now that the country is battling to get the novel coronavirus under control, ordinary Nigerians under whose names the Buhari administration has been receiving aids, borrowing and appropriatimg funds, are left to feed on scraps, assuming they find any.

Just when the Buhari administration needed it the most, Abacha's tranches of loots are being repatriated back to the country, and straight to government's purse.

However, being cautious of corrupt tendencies, warnings were made by countries returning the looted funds reminding the federal government that the repatriated funds aren't their pocket monies to be misused.

As the the US and UK begin returning Abacha's loot to Nigeria, reports soon emerged that Buhari's administration has its looting machinery all set up and ready to go.

The Buhari government was accused of plotting to divert over $100 million of the repatriated funds to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu.

Bloomberg had reported that the U.K National Crime Agency has insisted that the Abacha loot belongs to the people and “is opposing the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s application” to give Governor Bagudu a per cent of the money.

The U.S. had in a statement on February 3, said the Kebbi Governor was part of Abacha network that “embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria.”

The Department of Justice (DoJ) further said the Buhari administration is preventing ongoing forfeiture efforts against Atiku Bagudu.

The 2003 settlement approved by a U.K. court allowed the governor to return $163 million to Nigeria “without admitting to wrongdoing,” according to U.S. court filings.

In return, the federal government dropped all outstanding civil and criminal claims against him, District Judge John D. Bates noted in a December 23, 2019 memorandum opinion.

“This case illustrates how complex and contentious repatriating stolen assets to Nigeria can be,” Matthew Page, an associate fellow at Chatham House.

“Nigeria’s lawyers appear to be supporting the interests of one of the country’s most powerful families”, the intelligence expert added.

Successive governments have so far repatriated more than $2billion stashed abroad by Abacha.

Transparency International estimated that the late dictator stole around $5billion during his five-year rule.

PDP, has recently accused the Buhari administration of attempting to cover its complicity in the looting of repatriated funds as well as defending the exposed current plot by its leaders and the cabal in the Presidency to plunder the recently repatriated $311 million.

It said in a press statement last week, that "It is not for nothing that the APC has been riotous since our party busted its fresh plot to loot the repatriated $311 million, and had resorted to vituperations, insults, threats and unfounded accusations against well-meaning Nigerians. It is because our insistence on transparency and accountability in the handling of the funds has ended their re-looting ploys."

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