Abacha Loot: Court Refuses Ex-Army Chief, Jeremiah Useni Access To £2million Stolen

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The accounts — in US dollars, euros and sterling — were reportedly opened under the false name of “Tim Shani.”
A Royal Court in Jersey has refused an application by Jeremiah Useni, a retired lieutenant-general of the Nigerian Army to gain access to £2million funds held in seized bank accounts in the country.

In May, the court had also ordered the forfeiture of the funds.

Useni was said to have transferred the money into the Standard Chartered Bank accounts in Jersey between the 1980s and 1990s, when he was in Nigeria’s military service.

The accounts — in US dollars, euros and sterling — were reportedly opened under the false name of “Tim Shani.”

According to the Jersey Evening Post, Useni failed in his effort to recover the £2million that was seized by the government of Jersey after he failed to satisfy the court that, on the balance of probabilities, the funds in his accounts were not “tainted.”

Useni had previously reported large assets but claimed earlier this year that he couldn’t afford to pay his lawyers in Jersey unless he could access his accounts in the United States.

He stated that the funds had been transferred to his Jersey bank accounts for security reasons.

He later filed an appeal against the Attorney General’s successful Royal Court demonstration that the accounts were set up “to hold and conceal bribes and other proceeds of corruption,” but his appeal was denied in a written ruling handed down this week by the Court of Appeal.

The government of Jersey therefore ruled that the “tainted money” might be seized without a conviction under Jersey’s Forfeiture of Assets Law 2018.

“The decision of the Jersey Court of Appeal in this case reconfirms that the forfeiture law is an effective means of depriving persons of property that is reasonably suspected to have been unlawfully obtained,” Attorney General Mark Temple said.

The money will now be paid into the Criminal Offences Confiscations Fund and then returned to the people of Nigeria.

On Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, he was elected to the Senate as the lawmaker representing Plateau South senatorial district in the National Assembly between 2015 and 2019.

He later contested the Plateau State governorship election in 2019 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, but lost to incumbent Governor Simon Lalong of the All Progressives Congress, APC.