US court set to return stolen assets worth over ₦8.2 billion to Nigeria

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On January 16, 2024, a court ruled that stolen assets worth £6.9 million ($8.9 million) are set to be returned to Nigeria. This decision comes after the Jersey Attorney General served a forfeiture notice to the Royal Court for Jersey in November. The court concluded that the money, deposited in a Jersey bank account, is likely to be funds stolen by Nigerian government officials in 2014. The return of these assets will be negotiated with the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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The funds were disguised as government-sanctioned contracts for arms during attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria between 2009 and 2015. The Government of Jersey suggests that most of the funds from legitimate arms deals were diverted through foreign bank accounts to and from shell companies. The Attorney General’s office believes the money went to family members of the former ruling party and was shared among its members during the 2015 general elections in Nigeria. The properties associated with the funds were intended for these dubious transactions.

Mark Temple KC, the Majesty Attorney General, states that the Government of Jersey has worked closely with the Federal Republic of Nigeria to recover the properties for the Nigerian people. He emphasizes that this case highlights the effectiveness of the 2018 Forfeiture Law in recovering corruption profits and returning the money to victims of crime. Temple now plans to negotiate an asset return agreement with the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The backdrop of Nigeria’s arms fraud includes the case of former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki during the Buhari administration. Dasuki faced allegations of embezzling $2 billion, supposedly awarded through ghost contracts for helicopters, fighter jets, and ammunition. Despite denying the charges, Dasuki was arrested after an investigation into arms procurement under former President Goodluck Jonathan. This action was said to have left many under-equipped soldiers vulnerable to Boko Haram.

If Nigeria receives the money from Jersey, it won’t be the first time such funds are returned from foreign accounts. The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) previously recovered $23,439,724.98 that associates and family of former Nigerian Head of State General Sani Abacha siphoned out of Nigeria in the 1990s. These funds were part of a larger pool identified by the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) as money misappropriated by Abacha and his associates.

Even more than twenty years after Sani Abacha’s regime, Nigeria continues to receive funds looted by the former ruler and his associates. This latest promise to return $321 million is part of the ongoing efforts to repatriate the funds that had been in Switzerland’s possession, with the money entering Nigeria’s coffers in 2020.

Bisi Adele
Bisi Adelehttps://naija247news.com/
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