The United States of America has agreed to return over US$308 million looted by late Gen. Sani Abacha to the people of Nigeria.

This was contained in a statement on Tuesday by the US Embassy in Nigeria

It announced that the agreement was reached on Monday, February 3rd by the Government of Jersey, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the United States of America.

The funds were laundered through the US banking system and then held in bank accounts in Jersey in the name of Doraville Properties Corporation, a BVI company, and in the name of a son of Abacha.

The statement said in 2014, a U.S. Federal Court in Washington DC forfeited the money as property involved in the illicit laundering of the proceeds of corruption arising in Nigeria during the period from 1993 to 1998 when Abacha was in power.

The U.S. noted that Abacha and his associates stole and laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of public money during his military regime.

“The monies were laundered by his family, including his sons Ibrahim and Mohammed, and a number of close associates.

The laundering operation extended to the United States and European jurisdictions such as the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg”, it said.

The statement recalled that in 2018, Governments of Nigeria, the U.S. and the Bailiwick of Jersey, commenced the negotiation of the procedures for the repatriation, transfer, disposition and management of the assets.

It noted that projects on which the funds will be expended will be administered by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and independently audited.

“The Nigerian government, in consultation with the other Parties, will also engage Civil Society Organisations, who have expertise in substantial infrastructure projects, civil engineering, anti-corruption compliance, anti-human trafficking compliance, and procurement to provide additional monitoring and oversight.

The Solicitor General and Attorney General-designate of Jersey, Mark Temple QC, who signed the agreement on behalf of Jersey, said it “represents the culmination of two decades of intensive work by Law Officers in Jersey, the United States and Nigeria.

The return of the assets to Nigeria had been delayed by a number of hard-fought challenges by third parties which were defeated in the Courts in Jersey and the United States.

“The Agreement establishes a framework based on fruitful co-operation, trust and respect so that the forfeited funds can be repatriated to benefit the people of Nigeria, from whom they had been taken. The use of the funds will be subject to monitoring and reporting obligations.

“This is a very significant achievement, and, once again, demonstrates Jersey’s commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering.”

Nigeria’s Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, who signed on behalf of the federal government, said the deal has “culminated in a major victory for Nigeria and other African countries as it recognizes that crime does not pay and that it is important for the international community to seek ways to support sustainable development through the recovery and repatriation of stolen assets.

“Without the commitment of the three parties to the Agreement (Nigeria, Jersey and the United States) and that of the legal experts and Attorneys representing Nigeria, it would have been impossible to achieve the success recorded”

Malami had explained how the Nigerian government would expend the money.

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