Malami explains delay in retrieving £4.2m ‘Ibori loot’ from UK


Andrew Orolua, Abuja

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, has said that the Federal Government is working tirelessly to ensure the return of looted Nigerian assets kept outside the country’s territorial boundaries.

To this end, Malami said any moment from now, Nigeria expects the return of £4.2m seized from the associates of convicted former Delta State Governor, James Ibori.

A statement signed by Dr. Umar Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice said that sometimes when a country transfers funds, it may take a little bit time more than expected due to some documentations.

It said the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and other relevant government agencies will keep the general public informed once the Ibori loot are received and confirmed.

According to the statement, the Federal Government of Nigeria is in touch with the government of the United Kingdom on the matter.

“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,” the statement said.

Malami maintained 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 Daily Times recall that on March 9, the United Kingdom and the Federal Government signed an agreement to facilitate the return of over £4.2million pounds recovered from associates of James Ibori in Britain to Nigeria within the next 14 days.

British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing CB, who signed the agreement on behalf of the United Kingdom said it represents the first return of stolen assets confiscated by the United Kingdom under the auspices of the UK-Nigeria Memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in August 2016.

These funds have been recovered from the associates of James Ibori, former Governor of Delta State. Ibori during trial pleaded guilty in a UK court to money laundering, conspiracy to defraud, and forgery and he was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison.

Some of his associates and family also received sentences for similar offences.

Laing said UK and Nigeria are determined to lead the way in a coordinated global effort to bring the corrupt to justice and send a message to Nigeria and the world that James Ibori, a man who stole millions from the Nigerian government and laundered those proceeds in the UK, has been held to account.

According to her, UK and Nigeria government are concerned about transparency in the handling of asset recovery. Therefore the projects on which the funds will be spent will be administered by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and independently audited.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who signed on behalf of the Federal Government said the funds will be used to consolidate work on the Ibadan – Lagos highway, second Niger bridge construction and Abuja -Kano highway.

His disclosure has made the Delta State government particularly the indigenes of the state where the money was stolen to agitate that it should be returned to the state.

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