By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Federal Government and the United Kingdom, yesterday, signed agreement to return the sum of £4.2million that was recovered from the family and associates of former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.
The FG, through the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, said the UK government’s agreement, is following an earlier Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, it signed with Nigeria in August 2016.
While Malami led the delegation that represented the Federal Government at the signing ceremony that held at the Federal Ministry of Justice Headquarters in Abuja, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms. Catriona Laing, signed the agreement on behalf of the UK government.
Speaking at the event, the British High Commissioner, Laing, said the agreement represented the culmination of many years of work by law enforcement authorities in the UK and Nigeria.
She informed that the return of the assets to Nigeria has been subject to a number of hard-fought legal challenges by third parties which were defeated in the UK Courts.
“It is vitally important that this agreement makes strong provision for transparency, monitoring and accountability. It is a guiding principle of both the UK and Nigerian governments that stolen assets should be used for projects that benefit Nigeria’s poor.
“I believe that this agreement demonstrates the UK’s commitment to recovering and returning corruptly-obtained assets. It is also another example of the success of the close collaboration between our two countries.
“Money obtained through criminality or corruption is not welcome in the UK. We will ensure the full weight of law enforcement to crack down upon thisd who look to use, move or hide their proceeds of crime in the UK,’’ she said.
In his remarks, Malami said Nigeria was committed to ensuring the transparent management of all recovered assets.
He added that the stolen asset returned from the UK would support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria.
Further in his speech, Malami disclosed that FG decided that the returned Ibori loot would be channeled into three legacy projects- The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano Road and the Second Niger Bridge.