FGN's Insistence To Hand Over $100m From Recovered Abacha Loot To Bagudu Sours Relationship Between Abuja And Washinton
The U.S. is opposing plans by Nigeria’s government to hand about $100 million the American authorities say was stolen by deceased former dictator Sani Abacha to funds to Kebbi state Governor Abubakar Bagudu (below) who is also a top ruling party official.
The disagreement may hamper future cooperation between the two nations to recover more state money moved offshore by Abacha, who Transparency International estimates may have looted as much as $5 billion during his 1993-98 rule.
It is even more infuriating because the US Department of Justice insists that Bagudu was involved in corruption with Abacha. The DoJ also contends that the Nigerian government is hindering all U.S. efforts to recover allegedly laundered money it says it’s traced to Bagudu.
The DoJ said in a Feb. 3 statement that Bagudu, 58, was part of a network controlled by Abacha that “embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria.” Bagudu is the chairman of an influential body of governors representing the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Incredibly the Buhari administration says a 17-year-old agreement entitles Bagudu to the funds and prevents Nigeria from assisting the U.S., according to recent filings from the District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington
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“This case illustrates how complex and contentious repatriating stolen assets to Nigeria can be,” shared Matthew Page (below), an associate fellow at London-based Chatham House and former Nigeria expert for U.S. intelligence agencies.
He further informed:
“Instead of welcoming U.S. efforts, Nigeria’s lawyers appear to be supporting the interests of one of the country’s most powerful families.”