Not too long ago the British high commissioner to Nigeria commented on the crisis of corruption caused by uncontrolled looting and embezzlement of public resources by unscrupulous elements who have been either elected or appointed to serve in one capacity or the other either as state governors party chairmen, ministers, senators, commissioners, etc. and claimed their allegiance in helping to track down all forms of looted funds store in any of it bank account in the United Kingdom.
Among others, one of the high-profile political names that have been in the news for crimes of corruption and financial embezzlement is the ex-governor of Delta state, James Ononefe Ibori. who was reportedly said to have confiscated the sum of £4.2m during his tenure in office and had hidden it away in accounts outside the shores of the country. Ibori was eventually found guilty of and was convicted of fraud and money laundering by a UK court in 2012.
However, the federal government has recently disclosed that the £4.2m loot retrieved from the former Delta state governor, James Ibori, would be used to execute three major infrastructural projects, of which one of such projects would include the second Niger Bridge.
Commenting further on the FG’s proposed plans for the recovered loot, The Attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, mentioned the other two projects the Lagos–Ibadan, and Abuja–Kano expressways.
Recalled that the government had earlier approved the $321 million loot recovered from Sani Abacha, former head of state, for the construction of the same projects.
The money recovered from Ibori’s plunder will be returned to Nigeria in line with a mutually agreed memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on Tuesday, March 09 2021 by the United kingdom and the Nigerian government.
Speaking at the MoU signing in Abuja, Malami was emphatic in his comments on the position of the FG and said that the Nigerian government would be very strict and committed to battling all forms of unlawful financial transactions and embezzlement and duly ensure that forfeited or recovered proceeds of corruption are allocated to the advantage of the general public.
“It is to be recalled that the Nigerian Government had all along provided the required mutual assistance and back up to the British authorities while the prosecution of James Ibori lasted in London and today, we are rightfully taking benefit of that cooperation,” he said.
“Hence, in consonance with existing framework or model engaged in the management of previous recoveries, the Federal Executive Council under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the instant repatriated funds should be deployed towards the completion of the following legacy projects: the Second Niger Bridge, Abuja – Kano expressway and the Lagos – Ibadan expressway under the coordination of the Nigeria Social Investment Authority (NSIA) to ensure the integrity of the process.”
The minister of justice confirmed as well that a civil society organization has been set up to closely regulate how these recouped resources will be used to execute the three intended projects.
“We have established, as a government, a reputation of transparency and accountability of utilization of recovered assets as a nation. These assets will in no way be different in terms of application,” he added.
Gift Joseph Okpakorese