British Government pays Ibori’s looted funds to Nigeria

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The British Government has paid Nigeria the £4,214,017.66 looted funds recovered from family members and associates of former Delta State Governor James Ibori.

Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) said the Federal Government’s account was credited with the naira equivalent as of May 10.

Malami’s spokesman, Dr Umar Gwandu, in a statement, quoted the AGF as confirming the receipt of the recovered loot.

He added: “Malami signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the repatriation of the Ibori loot on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“The development, according to Malami, was a demonstration of the recognition of reputation Nigeria earns through records of management of recovered stolen Nigerian stolen in the execution of public-oriented projects.”

There was a debate as to who should receive the money when it was first reported that it would be returned.

Activist-lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) said the money should be returned to Delta.

Falana said the Federal Government could not convert the recovered sum under local and international law.

He recalled that the repatriated funds from former Plateau and Bayelsa states governors Joshua Dariye and Diepreye Alamieyeseigha were given to the states.

He said: “Since it is not in doubt that the £4.2 million belongs to Delta State, the Federal Government cannot, under any law, seize the fund and use it to fix Kano-Abuja road and Lagos-Ibadan road. Why not Warri-Asaba road?”

But, another SAN, Yemi Candide-Johnson, SAN, said Delta had no valid claim to the £4.2 million.

The UK government, he argues, owns the money under its laws authorising it to confiscate proceeds of crime from persons convicted via the British judicial system, such as Ibori.

He said the British government did not have to, but it decided to repatriate the money to Nigeria, as more or less an act of benevolence, based on strict terms and conditions that Nigeria was bound by.

He said Nigeria could not breach the terms of that agreement without consequences.

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