A plot by the Buhari-led federal government to pay an APC governor $100 million from the Abacha loot has been uncovered.
The United States Department of Justice says the Federal Government led by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, is blocking attempts to recover Abacha loot traced to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu.
The DoJ made the claim in court papers filed before the District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, Bloomberg reports.
The PUNCH reports that Bagudu, who is a close ally of Buhari and a prominent member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, was indicted by the US Government for helping the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, to transfer billions of dollars in the mid-90s.
According to documents from the DoJ, Bagudu spent six months in federal detention in Texas while awaiting extradition to the Island of Jersey.
However, before he was handed over to criminal trial in Jersey, he quickly agreed to return $163m to Nigeria and was released on bond to Nigeria, where he was meant to be prosecuted for money laundering.
However, on returning to Nigeria, he was cleared to contest in three different election cycles – once as a senator and twice as governor – all of which he won and now enjoys immunity.
In a report published by Bloomberg, on Friday, it was stated that the US Department of Justice says the Nigerian government is preventing the US from seizing Bagudu’s alleged loot.
“The DoJ also contends that the Nigerian government is hindering US efforts to recover allegedly laundered money it says it’s traced to Bagudu. Buhari’s administration says a 17-year-old agreement entitles Bagudu to the funds and prevents Nigeria from assisting the US, according to recent filings from the District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington,” the report stated.
According to the report, the disagreement may hamper future cooperation between Nigeria and the US to recover state money moved offshore by Abacha, whom Transparency International estimates may have looted as much as $5bn during his 1993-98 rule.
“A commitment by Nigeria to transfer the funds to Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Bagudu appears to undermine Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to quell rampant graft in Africa’s top oil producer,” the report stated.
Neither Bagudu nor a spokesman for the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), responded to requests for comment.
A spokesman for Buhari said the settlement and the litigation were matters for Malami.
A spokesman for the DoJ declined to comment.
Successive Nigerian governments have sought to recoup the money looted by Abacha, who died in office, and have so far repatriated more than $2bn with the cooperation of other countries, according to US court filings.
The DoJ said in a February 3 statement that Bagudu, 58, was part of a network controlled by Abacha that “embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria.”
Bagudu is the chairman of an influential body of governors representing the ruling All Progressives Congress, Buhari’s party.
“Despite the forfeiture action being initiated following a Nigerian state request in 2012, Buhari’s government now says it can’t assist the US because it’s bound by a settlement Bagudu reached with the administration of then-President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003, according to the court filings,” the report states.
Under the terms of that accord, which was approved by a UK court, Bagudu returned $163m of allegedly laundered money to the Nigerian authorities, which in exchange dropped all outstanding civil and criminal claims against him “stemming from his involvement in government corruption,” according to a December 23 memorandum opinion by District Judge John D. Bates in Washington D.C.
That meant “Nigeria renounced any interest whatsoever” in Bagudu’s trust assets, including those the US is attempting to recover for the West African nation, the opinion stated.
Bagudu was able to return to Nigeria after concluding the settlement and was elected as a senator in 2009. Six years later, he was voted in as Kebbi’s governor in elections that brought Buhari and his party to power.
After Bagudu successfully sued Nigeria for violating the 2003 settlement, Buhari’s regime reached a new agreement with him in October 2018, according to the court filings.
“That would result in the transfer of ownership of the investment portfolios, worth 141m euros ($155m) to the Nigerian state, which would then pay 98.5 million euros to Bagudu and his affiliates, according to Bates’ December 23 opinion. The funds are currently restrained by the UK at the request of the US,” it added.
Nigeria’s government claims the updated 2018 agreement with the Kebbi governor, which requires court approval in the UK, will “curtail and mitigate its looming exposure” from the judgment in Bagudu’s favor.
Buhari’s administration submitted the 2018 deal to the UK court in September to support its application to unfreeze the assets so they can be sent to Nigeria, according to the opinion. The court has yet to make a decision.
Source: The PUNCH
BREAKING: Nigeria’s COVID-19 Cases Rise To 139
Nigeria has recorded four new cases of coronavirus, three in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and one in Lagos State.
With this, confirmed cases in the country have risen to 139.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control made this known via its Twitter handle on Sunday.
It tweeted, “Four new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nigeria; three in the FCT and one in Lagos.
“As of 08:00 pm on 31st of March, there are 139 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Nigeria. Nine have been discharged with two deaths.
“For a breakdown of cases by states in real time, Lagos currently has 82 cases, FCT- 28, Oyo- eight, Osun- five, Ogun- four, Kaduna- three, Enugu- two, Edo- two, Bauchi- two, Ekiti- one,
Rivers- one, and Benue – one.”
[BREAKING] COVID-19: FG To Reach 11 Million Nigerians With Palliative
Federal government has said it will be reaching more than 11 million Nigerians with palliatives to cushion the harsh effects of the measures set to fight back outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.
Also, the government has said it will continue to increase capacity to test for cases of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on weekly basis.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, while reacting to questions on Tuesday at the daily media briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, also disclosed that internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Northeast part of the country already received two months rations of relief materials.
She said the government already had a social-register with details of those considered as the vulnerable in society in 35 states of the federation, adding that these people belong to around 2.6 million households across the country.
Also speaking, the Director-General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chike Ihekweazu, said Nigeria would continue to develop capacity to test for COVID-19, said while it now has the capacity to test up to 1,000 this week, it hopes to be able to test as many as 1,500 next week.
BREAKING: Nigeria Confirms 4 New Coronavirus Cases, Total Now 135
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed four new cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
The new COVID-19 cases brings the country’s total confirmed cases to 135
The NCDC said in a tweet:, “Four new cases of #COVID19 have been reported in Nigeria; 3 in Osun and 1 in Ogun
“As at 11:15 am 31st March there are 135 confirmed cases of #COVID19 reported in Nigeria with 2 deaths.”
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