Tuesday, May 24, 2016 11:11 pm
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, says the Federal Government is in the process of repatriating from Jersey the stolen £300 million.
But the process has been stalled, by a last minute legal objection by the people who spirited the money to the island.
Although the minister did not mention those who raised the objection, it could not be any other person than the Abacha family or their lawyers. The other person mentioned in the Jersey loot was a former military governor of Lagos state. It was not clear whether he was the one who raised the objection .
The money was laundered on behalf of Abacha by Mr Raj Bhojwani, an Indian businessman who was sentenced to six years in prison by a Jersey court in 2010.(Read More about Bhojwani’s money laundering role here: The Guardian
Onyeama spoke about the loot at a news conference organised as part of activities to mark the one year anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Jersey, an independent, English-speaking territory with a mix of British and French cultures, is the largest of the Channel Islands located between England and France.
“Like if you take the one in Jersey, it is like£300 million pounds or thereabouts; now everything had been done to repatriate the money.
“It was no longer contested; and then at the last minute, an objection was raised by the people, who were supposed to forfeit those funds. So, of course the authorities in Jersey were obliged – as much as they would have liked to just go ahead and repatriate it – to go through certain legal procedures, because the other party would have a lawyer and there were legal issues.
“And then we have to now start going through that all over again; so that is really the challenge.’’
According to the minister, the important thing is that the process has been engaged.
He said Nigeria would not relent in seeking to repatriate the alleged stolen funds.
He also said that the process of repatriation of looted funds stacked in other countries like Switzerland and U.S. was in progress.
“It is something that takes time – repatriation of stolen funds – because very often, you have to have an idea; you have to work on lead.’’
According to him, the repatriation of all other funds is in progress even though the Western countries where the stolen funds have been taken to, are creating barriers that will make it difficult to repatriate the monies.
Onyeama, however, said the Federal Government would consider some mechanisms that would be deployed to make it “a bit easier’’ for Nigeria to get back the stolen funds.
“That is why the anti-corruption summit and the initiatives of Mr President are really focused on these Western countries to remove some of those barriers, some of those lengthy procedures that are in place, that make it possible for these people to delay and delay and delay.
“And that is what we are looking at; they are coming on board now these Western countries, more and more.
“And so, we just have to look at mechanisms to make it a bit easier when it’s more or less clear, that the stolen funds require us providing all the evidence and it is never easy.