The federal government is in negotiations with the United States on the repatriation of another $500 million looted by Sani Abacha, the former military head of state.
The repatriation this time, however, would be done without middlemen — in what should be considered a victory for the campaign against sleaze in the loot recovery.
“I am happy to report that we are almost concluding the processes relating to the repatriation of additional $500 million,” Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), announced on Wednesday after the federal executive council meeting.
The recoveries were made in 2014 under President Goodluck Jonathan and domiciled with the US government — and all the lawyers involved had been paid 4% of the funds as their fees.
TheCable reported how Malami attempted to, again, engage private lawyers who were going to take a cut as “legal fees” — even though they did not play any role in the recovery of the stolen funds traced to the former dictator who ruled Nigeria from 1993 to 1998.
In a similar pattern, Malami who engaged Oladipo Okpeseyi, a senior advocate, and Temitope Isaac Adebayo in 2016 for the $321 million Abacha loot recovered from Luxembourg, also proposed to use the same lawyers in the US case, but the US department of justice consistently refused to entertain them.
The lawyers who were to be paid almost $17 million were engaged to replicate an already done job.
The recovery was done by Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer, who vehemently denied syndicated media articles that he was asking for another 20% of the recovered funds for the final leg of the restitution to Nigeria.
The US had promised to return the $500 million but on a government-to-government arrangement — without the involvement of the “appointed intermediaries”.
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