The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has asked the Nigerian public to disregard the story that the federal government is to pay Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, $100m from the late Sani Abacha loot, describing the report as “unfounded and baseless.”
In a statement over the weekend, Special Assistance on Media to the Minister, Umar Gwamdu, said the report is a fiction and figment of the imagination of the writer.
According to an online portal, Premium Times, on Friday, Nigerian government is committed to a deal that would help Bagudu keep over $100m from funds stolen by Abacha.
The paper said court documents reported by Bloomberg is likely to put cooperation with the United States over Abacha loot recovery at risk.
The report titled, ‘Buhari wants to pay $100 million to Kebbi governor who helped Abacha loot Nigeria’, the paper said: “The deal was first negotiated in 2003 under the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, and then updated in 2018 under President Muhammadu Buhari, whose administration now reportedly insists on not backing recovery efforts against Bagudu.”
The paper reported that Bagudu was one of Abacha’s conduit pipes, who used phony companies to siphon and move stolen funds across transnational borders when the kleptocrat ruled Nigeria between 1993 and 1998.
“He (Bagudy) spent six months in a U.S. federal prison in 2003, while awaiting extradition to British dependent Jersey to answer questions relating funds traced to the account of Doraville Properties Corp, a company he controlled alongside Mohammed Abacha, to stash stolen money abroad.
“But before he was handed over to authorities at Jersey, Bagudu quickly negotiated a deal with the U.S. and Jersey authorities to ‘return more than $163 million of the allegedly laundered assets to Nigeria in exchange for Jersey’s withdrawal of the extradition request and his return to Nigeria,” the online portal said.
The paper further reported that the updated deal requires a transfer of ownership of investment portfolios, worth €141m ($155m) to Nigeria, which would then pay €98.5m ($106m or N38.5bn) to Bagudu and his affiliates.
However, the Minister said this is not true.
“The story regarding paying a Governor certain amount of the repatriated Abacha loot is unfounded and baseless.
It is only a fiction and figment of the imagination of mischief makers who are bent on destroying the good efforts of the Federal Government.
The report should be disregarded by any sensible and well-meaning persons,” the statement said…