The United Kingdom has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to return the sum of £4.2 million assets stolen by former Delta State Governor, James Ibori to Nigeria.
This was announced on Tuesday by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Laing at the signing of the MoU at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Justice said the money was recovered from friends and family members of the former governor.
She lamented that many Nigerians were in the habit of siphoning money from the country to the UK, saying that has also affected the level of trust between the two countries.
Laing however warned that the UK will no longer be used as a destination for looters to siphon proceeds of crimes.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said the recovery of the stolen fund is part of the efforts of the current administration to fight corruption.
He said that the money will be used for the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and Lagos-Ibadan Express road.
“The Governments of Nigeria and the United Kingdom have concluded negotiations for the return of £4.2million to Nigeria pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding earlier executed by the two governments in 2016,” Malami said.
He added that in consonance with the existing framework or model engaged in the management of previous recoveries, the Federal Executive Council under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the instant repatriated funds should be deployed towards the completion of the following legacy projects: the Second Niger Bridge, Abuja – Kano expressway and the Lagos – Ibadan expressway under the coordination of the Nigeria Social Investment Authority (NSIA).
Based on the agreement signed, the £4.2million is to be returned two weeks from now.
Ibori, who was Delta State Governor from 1999 to 2007, was convicted by a UK court in 2012 and was sentenced to 13 years in jail.
He pleaded guilty to 10 charges of fraud and money-laundering in February 2012 and is the most prominent Nigerian politician to be successfully prosecuted for corruption.
He was released in 2016 after serving a fraction of his term.
Find Below the full statement by the AGF Abubakar Malami….
BEING TEXT OF BRIEF REMARKS BY ABUBAKAR MALAMI, SAN – THE HON. ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, AT THE SIGNING CEREMONY OF THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM REGARDING THE RETURN AND MANAGEMENT OF STOLEN ASSETS RECOVERED FROM THE FORMER GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE, JAMES IBORI AND ASSOCIATES HELD ON 9TH MARCH 2021.
Today being the 9th day of March 2021 we are at the threshold of another major milestone in our determined quest as a nation to attain full recovery of all looted assets, prevent abuse of recovered assets and also to ensure optimal utilization of such recovered assets for the benefit of our deserving citizens.
I wish to remark that today’s ceremony and the recoveries attached thereto has again underscored the fact that international cooperation and mutual trust can yield great benefits for the citizenry in developing countries who are the direct victims of acts of corruption. Hence, the Governments of Nigeria and the United Kingdom have concluded negotiations for the return of £4.2million to Nigeria pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding earlier executed by the two governments in 2016.
It is to be recalled that the Nigerian Government had all along provided the required mutual assistance and back up to the British authorities while the prosecution of James Ibori lasted in London and today, we are rightfully taking benefit of that cooperation. I cannot but observe that what we are witnessing today is a glaring manifestation of the agelong national ties between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
I am confident that both the Nigerian and British governments remain committed to all affirmative actions to combat corruption/illicit financial flows, ensure that looters do not find comfort or save haven in our territories, and also to guarantee that the forfeited or recovered proceeds of corruption are deployed to the benefit of the masses.
Hence, in consonance with the existing framework or model engaged in the management of previous recoveries, the Federal Executive Council under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the instant repatriated funds should be deployed towards the completion of the following legacy projects: the Second Niger Bridge, Abuja – Kano expressway and the Lagos – Ibadan expressway under the coordination of the Nigeria Social Investment Authority (NSIA) to ensure integrity of the process while a reputable Civil Society Organization has been engaged to monitor/supervise the expenditure of the recovered funds on the execution of these critical projects which are evenly spread across the country.
We have established, as a government, a reputation of transparency and accountability of utilization of recovered assets as a nation. These assets will in no way be different in terms of application.
I am highly elated and privileged to perform this assignment on behalf of Mr. President and Nigerians in general. I commend the sincerity of purpose of the British government as we look forward to similar assistance and cooperation in bringing to book all other persons and entities who at the moment are inequitably exploiting the system in UK to shield themselves from justice.
In drawing the curtains on my remarks, let me once again acknowledge and appreciate the unwavering and underlying support which Mr. President has continued to accord me and my dynamic team which has culminated in all the concluded and ongoing recoveries of our commonwealth for our common good.
Thank you all for your time and goodwill.
ABUBAKAR MALAMI, SAN
Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation
& Minister of Justice
Tuesday, March 09, 2021