Abacha loot belongs to Nigerians – UK, US, again warn Buhari against giving Bagudu $100m
The United Kingdom government has issued another warning to President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to do away with any plan to give Kebbi Governor, Atiku Bagudu, $100million.
The money is part of funds stolen by the late Head of State, Sani Abacha.
The U.S. and Nigeria, in early February, agreed on the repatriation of over $308million to Africa’s most populous nation.
A few days later, the world power accused the Nigerian government of a secret plot to give Atiku Bagudu a per cent of the money.
On Monday, Bloomberg reported that the UK National Crime Agency has insisted that the Abacha loot belongs to the people and “is opposing the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s application”.
The motion was filed by Atiku Bagudu’s brother, Ibrahim, “to the District Court for the District of Columbia in the U.S. capital on March 30”.
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.