The United States has laid claim to $300 million stashed abroad by Nigeria's late military dictator, Sani Abacha.
According to reports, America allegedly told a court in an unnamed foreign country that it had an interest in the loot because it was saved in its currency, the US dollar. Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) and rights activist Mr Femi Falana (SAN) made the claims in Lagos.
Falana also accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of failing to remit over $21.7 billion since 1999. He urged the Federal Government to extend efforts to recover looted funds to “the few Nigerians who have been indicted in the Panama and Paradise papers. The EFCC and the Federal Inland Revenue Service should recover appropriate taxes from the offshore companies set up by such individuals,” Falana said.
Falana, who accused the United States, Switzerland, the UK and other western nations of hypocritical behaviour in Nigeria’s quest to recover loot stashed in their banks, identified the US as the country concerned.
He said: “Nigeria traced part of the Abacha loot (over $300m) to Jersey, an island in the United Kingdom. The Attorney-General filed a process to – by the way I was in that country when the person was convicted. The money left Nigeria through Kenya and landed in Jersey. It was from the late Abacha. Nigeria wanted to collect the remaining loot. But the United States filed an objection, saying the money could not be released to Nigeria. The court asked why; the US said if the money must be released, it should be released to the US government, so that ‘we can manage it for Nigeria. The other one, $321 million, Switzerland, a notorious conduit for corruption, had the temerity to say that ‘unless the World Bank is going to manage this money, we are not going to release this money.’”
Falana urged the Federal Government not to depend on the West in its loot recovery drive.
“The United Nations Convention against Corruption has made adequate provisions against corruption; mandating countries to assist each other but western countries have not been helping us. Our government should stop relying on the west.”
He said he had advised, and the government was considering, suing foreign banks illegally holding onto funds stolen from Nigeria. He added: “From five cycles of independent audit reports covering 1999-2012 the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative revealed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, some oil companies and certain agencies of the Federal Government have withheld $20.2 billion from the Federation Account.