The Federal Government is set to receive the sum of $318,460,329 looted and stashed away by former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha from the United States of America within the next 72 days.
This is according to the Attorney General of the Federation Mr. Abubakar Malami who disclosed on Channels Television Politics Today in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Mr. Malami on Tuesday had signed a tripartite agreement on behalf of the Federal Government with the United States of America and the Island of Jersey to repatriate the funds.
The AGF stated that the money which is in the custody of the Island of Jersey will be sent to the USA within 27 days, and then within 45 days, the money will be repatriated to Nigeria.
The money is expected to take care of three major infrastructure projects; the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Abuja – Kano Expressway, and the Second Niger Bridge.
“The money as it is, in the custody of Island of Jersey where it was deposited and then the United States came on board on account of the fact that it has an order of forfeiture restraining the money against the background that its financial means of exchange, the dollar, was used in the perpetration of the crime of looting the asset of Nigeria.
“So that brings about the parties of interest to be the Island of Jersey where the money was stashed, the USA which initiated the judicial process for the repatriation of the money and Nigeria which is indeed the victim; so the common agreement that was reached is that within 27 days, the money will leave the custody of Island of Jersey down to the USA and within 45 days the money will be repatriated to Nigeria.
“We are looking at around 72 days from Tuesday when the agreement was signed and executed by the party,” he added.
Mr. Malami also intimated that the Federal Government is in further talks to repatriate other monies looted and stashed abroad.
He revealed that the $318m recovered is not the last looted by Abacha and the Buhari-led government is also working to ensure that other funds are recovered immediately.
“As it is, there are additional monies not only relating to Abacha but indeed extending to other parties of interest, inclusive of monies to be recovered relating to James Ibori, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governors in Nigeria, former petroleum minister, Diezani and indeed Kola Aluko.
“Negotiations commenced on these additional monies yesterday (Tuesday) and we look forward to signing an agreement in no distant future for the purpose of the repatriation of the additional sum.
The AGF added that “Part of the money we are looking forward to having repatriated in no distant future include some of the monies that are now domiciled in the UK, US, and France.
“In respect of Abacha, it is not the last, we are still expecting additional money,” he revealed.
When asked about the fees paid by the Federal Government to lawyers for facilitating the recovery of the monies stashed abroad, Mr. Malami intimated that President Buhari had restricted payment of fees not to exceed five percent.
He stressed that before President Buhari came into power, Nigeria paid as high as 35 to 40 percent professional legal fee.
“When recoveries are involved, you have to concede certain things because as it is, Nigerian lawyers cannot come over to the UK, Island of Jersey or the US to practice for the purpose of recovering certain proceedings because he is not licensed to practice offshore; so we have a concession of lawyers both local and international that work together on the basis of negotiation.
“Before the government of President Muhammadu Buhari came on board, Nigeria was conceding around 35 to 40 percent legal fees, but he gave a restriction that the professional fee payment does not exceed 5 percent.
The AGF stated that “As far as this government is concerned, no payment has been conceded above the 5 percent over time and there are times we negotiate below the 5 percent margin.”