The Federal government has released the £4.2m looted fund returned by United Kingdom to its original and lawful owner the Delta state.
The fund was recovered from associates of former Governor of Delta State James Ibori in the United Kingdom by the British government and repatriated to Nigeria on May 18.
The Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris said on Tuesday that the fund has been returned to Delta State.
Mr. Idris told the House of Representatives’ Ad hoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for Effective Efficient Management and Utilisation, on Tuesday that the fund has been returned to Delta State.
The Accountant-General told the Committee such funds looted from the treasury of a state are always returned to the state.
He added that states can sue the Federal Government to recover such funds.
The Attorney general of the Federation and minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN ) had repeatedly said that the money have been allocated to three federal government infrastructure projects : Abuja -Kaduna -Kano road. Lagos – Ibadan road and second Niger bridge .
He said on Tuesday May 18, while confirming that the Federal Government of Nigeria has received £4,214,017.66 Great Britain Pounds that formed part of the loot associated with the family members of former Delta State Governor, James Ibori.
A statement by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the Media aide in the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice confirmed the receipt of said amount.
According to the statement the amount has been credited into the designated Federal Government account with naira equivalent value of the amount as at May, 10th, 2021.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN had earlier in March signed Memorandum of Understanding for the repatriation of the Ibori loot on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The development, according to Malami, was a demonstration of the recognition of reputation Nigeria earns through records of management of recovered stolen Nigerian stolen in the execution of public oriented projects.
The United Kingdom and the federal government had on March 9 ,2021 signed an agreement to facilitate the return of over £4.2million pounds recovered from associates of James Ibori in Britain to Nigeria within 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 co- ordinated global effort to bring the corrupt to justice and send a message to Nigerian 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 concern 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 independent audited.
She said the federal government has established a monitoring team to oversee the implementation of the projects and to report regularly on progress. Nigeria government has also engaged The Cleen Foundation, a civil society organization to provide additional monitoring and oversight.
Laing said that money obtained through criminality or corruption is not welcome in the UK .” We will ensure the full weight of law enforcement to crack down upon those who loo to use , move or hide their proceeds of crime in the UK” she said.
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 Ibadan – Lagos highway, second Niger bridge construction and Abuja -Kano highway.
He said that the repatriated Abacha loots were also committed to same projects and the amount was not sufficient . He said the funds is intended to consolidate on the three projects while the the federal government is looking for an additional funds to complete the work .