The United States (US) government has signed an agreement with the federal government to repatriate $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria.
The agreement was signed on Tuesday at the office of Abubakar Malami, minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation.
In his speech, Malami said the decision to return the stolen funds, which is tagged ‘Abacha-5’, was a product of a series of negotiations and meetings between Nigeria, the US department of justice and the UK National Crime Agency.
The attorney-general said the loot, when repatriated, will be used for the completion of the Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Second Niger Bridge.
“It is worthy to note that in line with the terms of this agreement, Mr. President had already approved the funds to be utilized for the ongoing presidential development infrastructural funds, PIDF, projects namely; Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the second Niger bridge under the supervision of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA),” Malami said.
“The president’s mandate to my office is to ensure that all international recoveries are transparently invested and monitored by civil society organizations to compete for these three projects within the agreed timeline.”
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mary Leonard, US ambassador to Nigeria, said: “The US department of justice and the FBI seized these funds in response to General Abacha and his associates’ violation of US laws when they laundered these assets to the US and into accounts in the UK.
“These actions were a flagrant breach of the Nigerian people’s trust. But today is the result of an extensive and high level corporation between the US, UK and the federal republic of Nigeria to make the Nigerian people whole.
“This agreement is also a kind of collaboration that our government must continue in order to right the wrongs committed under the previous regimes.”