By Isaac Aregbesola
Prof. Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), on Thursday said Nigeria risks losing another $550 million recovered from the Abacha family to the United States.
Sagay disclosed this at a media conference on asset recovery jointly organised by PACAC and the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora.
“Nigeria presently stands to lose another S550 million recovered from the Abacha family to the U.S., contrary to the earlier promise by the U.S. to return same to Nigeria,” he said.
Sagay said the amount represented a separate tranche from the earlier $480 million forfeited to the U.S. following a court judgment in August 2014.
He said that the stringent conditions for repatriation being given by the countries in which some of the nation’s stolen wealth was stashed contradicted the earlier promises made.
He expressed concern at the country’s challenges in the tracing, seizure, forfeiture and return of Nigeria’s assets laundered outside the country.
According to Sagay, the challenges include stringent conditions and other uncooperative attitude of the countries in possession of the stolen funds.
“Out of the Abacha loot for instance, Switzerland seized over $505.5 million between 2004 and 2006. The UK recovered 2.7 million dollars from Alamieyeseigha’s account in London in 2005.
“Alamieyeseigha’s home and other real estate as at 2005 was estimated at over 15 million dollars,’’ Sagay said.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, called for the unconditional return of Nigeria’s looted fund.
Dabiri-Erewa, who said asset recovery was different from asset returning, decried the uncooperative attitude of the countries where the stolen funds were being stashed.
“America has over 400 million dollars that have been officially recovered as stolen funds from Nigeria.
“But America is keeping the funds. They are telling us about technicalities; they are saying we recovered doesn’t mean we can return.
“We want every Nigerian in Diaspora, friends of Nigeria, to join this committee in demanding that every Nigeria’s stolen fund recovered in any part of the world should be returned to Nigeria,” she said.
According to her, the person who steals is just as guilty as the person who keeps stolen funds.
“The person who steals is a criminal; the person who keeps known stolen funds is also liable.
“You can’t give us aid of one billion dollars and keep one billion dollars of funds you have recovered from Nigeria.
“So we will join the committee to embark on an advocacy with Nigerians outside the world to appeal to these nations to do everything possible to return what belongs to Nigeria,”she said.