By Lawrence Olaoye
The Federal Government has approved the process for the repatriation of $321 million fresh Abacha loot domiciled in Switzerland.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, who briefed newsmen yesterday after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Malami told newsmen that government efforts to recover local stolen funds, loots and assets have yielded desired results and would have to shift focus to international recovery.
According to him, the Council had authorized him to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the repatriation of the Abacha loot at the Global Asset Recovery Forum scheduled to hold in United States of America by December.
The Minister said “As you are aware, the Federal Government has been making efforts to recover stolen funds, loot, assets and the efforts have been indeed yielding fruits particularly as it relates to local recoveries.
“A memo has been presented to Council this afternoon by the office of the Attorney General which is intended to shift focus to international recovery. Before going into the memo, I think it is important to bring to your attention that recently, about a week ago, succeeded in recovering 85million dollars relating to Malabu issues from U.K.
And then, now, there exist a forum, that is Global Assets Recovery Forum taking place in December, in US and we are looking towards that. We are in agreement substantially with Swiss for the recovery of additional sum of 321million dollars. That memorandum of understanding has been substantially agreed between Nigeria and Swiss.
We intend to now execute or to sign off the agreement during the global forum on assets recovery coming up December. The intention of the memo, one is to seek the approval of the council to allow the Attorney General to sign the agreement on behalf of the Government of the Federation of Nigeria. Two, is to develop an instrument of ratification which will now give the Attorney General, the powers to ensure the repatriation of the funds.
“It is collectively agreed upon between Nigeria and Swiss that we on our own part should seek the approval of Council to ratify the MoU as agreed, and they on their own part too, procure the instrument of ratification that will now give the respective officers of the two countries the desired power and effect to now sign off on the agreement.
The memo has accordingly been agreed and approved by the council. The implication of which is that the MoU as negotiated between Nigeria and Swiss has been agreed and ratified by council and then the Attorney General has been mandated to execute the agreement that will see to the repatriation of the 321million dollars and added to it to develop the instrument of ratification that will be expected from both sides of the device which will constitute the basis for the signing of the agreement in December in US during the global forum on assists recovery.”
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, stressed that the recent high ranking of the country in the ease of doing business was possible because of the collaboration between the executive, legislature and state governments, especially Lagos and Kano states.
In his own briefing, Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu said the council approved N40.2 billion for the completion of an irrigation dam in Kotangora, Niger State.
He said the project which had been under execution since 1985, witnessed the upward review of the initial N18 billion required to complete the project to N40.2 after rigorous analyses.
Disclosing that the duration of the project is 36 months, Adamu said the National Irrigation Master Plan launched in 2016 would guarantee the provision of irrigation for 100,000 hectares of land..
Also briefing, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, who said despite government efforts to boost local production, massive smuggling of rice into Nigeria through land borders has remained a great challenge.
The minister also said FEC approved a memo to spray pests destroying farm produce in 11 states in Northern Nigeria using aircraft. He listed the states to include: Zamfara, Kebbi, Kano, Yobe, Borno, among others.
He also said there was a suggestion to consider using drones to spray the pests which he said were coming to Nigeria from neighbouring Niger Republic, noting that using drones for the exercise will be cheaper.