The Nigerian government has sued Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) over €180 million (£150 million) funds that was stashed abroad by late former Head of State Gen. Sani Abacha.
The United Kingdom’s Telegraph reported that the case was raising questions about dirty money being circulated in the city of London.
In May 2020, the federal government confirmed that they had received $311 million looted funds.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, stated that the funds would be dedicated to three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria, namely, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Road, and Second Niger Bridge.
“The amount increased significantly from over $308 million to over $311 million because of the interest that accrued from February 3, 2020, to 28th April, 2020, when the fund was transferred to the CBN.”
A total of $1.5 billion looted funds was returned from different part of the world to Nigeria from 2007 to 2020
The tussle began when the United States decided to return the funds in a scheme called the Kleptocracy Initiative. But this did not sit well with the Federal Government and they decided to side step the process and obtain the funds directly through an application to the High Court, in a move opposed by UK and US authorities.
The report by the publication states in part: “It is a complicated story with many twists and turns. But the on-going struggle for ‘Abacha’s loot’ reveals the difficulty in recovering stolen funds, the frustrations of law enforcement, and the way people accused of corruption have relied on respectable law firms to argue their cases in coupart”
Uk hired Kingsley Napley, a London law firm to represent them. The firm and the NCA have refused to comment on the ongoing case.
However, Jonathan Benton, a former NCA senior detective said the case shows the difficulty in reclaiming Abacha’s loots
He said: “I care passionately about tackling corruption and it is important we hold people to account.
“But it can be a challenging and drawn-out process and sometimes you have to be pragmatic. In those situations, the law allows you to negotiate. It is repugnant. But Nigeria desperately needs the money that Abacha stole.”