FG concludes plans for return of $321m looted money

Presidential Aide Juliet Ibekaku

The Presidency on Monday says that the Federal Government is concluding plans with the Switzerland Government for the repatriation of $321 million looted from Nigeria by December.

Mrs Juliet Ibekaku, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Justice Reforms, made the disclosure at the Conversation on Anti-corruption Campaign, organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) in Abuja.

She said that before now, Nigeria had no agreement or Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with foreign countries for the return of looted money, explained that that was why it took Nigeria awhile to initiate the process of discussion and recovery of looted funds at the international level.

“So far, we have recovered part of the Malabu fund held by the United Kingdom courts.

“We are also working to finalise the process for the return of $321 million, and by December, we are going to sign the MoU for the return of the money held in Switzerland.

“I am happy to also note here that some Civil Society Organisations working in the area of asset recovery were involved in the negotiation of the MoU and will be involved in monitoring the assets.

“This is to ensure that the returned funds are managed in a transparent manner as other recovery plans continue in countries like the UK, Island of Jersey and France,’’ she said.

Ibekaku added that the Federal Government had also opened up discussion with the United States government for the return of the money that left that country for two or three years from 2013.

The Presidential aide said that an example of such money was the Diepreye Alamieyeseigha’s money, adding that different fronts were being opened up for its recovery.

Alamieyeseigha was Governor of Bayelsa State who was tried and jailed in the UK last decade.

Ibekaku said that the money recovery mission was hinged on the Open Government Partnership Initiative, which was committed to four thematic areas: Transparency, Anti-corruption, Access to Information, Citizen Engagement and Empowerment.

She said government had set up one asset recovery account which made it easy for anybody that wanted to track recovered money to know where the money was going to.

According to her, this put to rest the worry by Nigerians over the whereabouts of the recovered money or its proper management.

She said that President Buhari had set up a Presidential Assets Recovery Committee to monitor the recovered assets from the agencies.

The committee, in turn, set up the Assets Tracing Subcommittee to determine where these moneys went as from 2012.

She said that the administration also created the Asset Recovery Account at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Ibekaku said that the President also directed that asset recovery should now be ploughed into the budget to part-fund it starting from 2017.

The Executive Director of CDD, Ms Idayat Hassan said that the event was organised with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa and the Department for International Development.

She said that it was obvious that tackling corruption remained one of President Buhari’s main priorities.

Hassan explained that the platform sought to proffer alternative opinions for robust, effective and sustained interventions in the anti-corruption fight and effective usage of the recovered money.

She called on the government to make more open to Nigerians the amount so far recovered and how it was being spent to engender confidence from the people. (NAN)

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