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Abacha Loot: Nigeria, US move to sign repatriation agreement for $321m

ABUJA, Nigeria – The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Sunday departed Nigeria to attend a three-day meeting of the United States-Nigeria Bi-national Commission in Washington DC.

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This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday by Umar Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media in the Attorney General’s office.

At the meeting, Malami, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, will sign a tripartite agreement with the Island of New Jersey and the US for repatriation of $321m looted by former Head of State, Sani Abacha.

The statement said the Nigeria-US meeting will review bilateral relationship and take “necessary steps to advance mutual interest in all diplomatic areas among the two countries”.

According to the Minister, “the meeting is not an ad hoc event for addressing impromptu concerns, but a friendly bi-national meeting that holds annually devoid of intervening concerns or relating to the internal affairs of the participating states”

On Malami’s entourage are Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo; Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd), Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) and Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Faruk.

Last Wednesday, Malami told State House correspondents after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that the funds to be repatriated within three months will be deployed for the construction works on Lagos to Ibadan highway in the Southwest, Abuja to Kano in the North and a Second Niger bridge across the Niger River in the Eastern part of the country.

“Council approved the asset sharing tripartite agreement between Nigeria, Island of Jersey and the United States of America for the purpose of repatriation of looted assets”, he said.

“We have overtime been discussing with other jurisdictions including Island of Jersey and the United States for the purpose of the repatriation of looted assets connected to Abacha’s family, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Kolawole Aluko among others.

“It is within this contest that we have now come to terms with this jurisdiction – Island of Jersey, United States of America and indeed Nigeria by way of negotiating for the repatriation of sizable assets.

“As it is, we have concluded on the understanding that the sum of $321 million will be repatriated in due course inclusive of James Ibori assets as well.

“So, we are hopeful that by next week we will sign the agreement for the looted assets. The assets that are going to be repatriated is located and in the custody of the Island of Jersey.

“But the United States of America came on board because it has obtained an order for forfeiture against the assets, considering that the medium of exchange used in the looting the assets is the US dollar.

“So, the amount upon signing the MOU will be remitted from the Island of Jersey within a number of days agreed upon, within 28 days.

“The money will be repatriated from the Island of Jersey to the United States of America and thereafter within 45 days, it is agreed by the parties that the United States of America will make the necessary arrangements for the eventual repatriation to the Nigerian state”.

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