Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami
Insists Abacha loot becomes Nigeria’s asset at drawdown
Soni Daniel – Abuja
Barely a week after successfully drawing down the sum of $311.7 million from the United States of America and Bailiwick of Jersey, the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, has asked Nigerians to focus on what the funds will be used for and desist from throwing undue tantrums on his office and the Nigerian government.
This comes as Malami insisted that it was proper and lawful to categorise the money as assets following the successful return of the huge cash to Nigeria, which is to be channelled to the completion of the Kano-Abuja, Lagos-Ibadan highways and the Second Niger Bridge.
The minister made the clarification in a statement made available to Vanguard by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu on Wednesday.
The statement said in part, “The attention of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to needless media hype relating to the purported characterization of the recovered assets associated with former Head of State, General Sani Abacha as “Abacha Assets”. The office maintains that the choice of words was deliberate.
“It is to be noted that by way of antecedence that Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has been consistently describing the recovered funds as “Abacha loot” at several fora during the process of recovery of the looted funds, particularly before the eventual repatriation of the funds.
“The point needs to be made that when the seal of legitimacy was appended to the funds by way of repatriation it became an asset in favour of the Federal Government as a beneficial owner of same.
“Beyond the issues of verbal dexterity and vocal acrobatics, Nigerians should focus more on effective utilisation of the recovered looted funds in accordance with the content of the signed tripartite agreement in the interest of the Nigerian public.
“It may interest the general public to note that there is a unit called Assets Recovery and Management Unit (ARMU) at the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. The use of the word “assets” in relation to the post-recovery of looted assets is to qualify the same as Federal Government assets.
“It is palpable that news about the successful return of the looted assets has brought nightmares to nay-sayers and pessimists who wanted to frustrate the repatriation process through a campaign of calumny; hence resorting to rhetoric instead of burying the heads in shame.
“The return of the looted funds demonstrates not only commendable efforts of the present government but also a pointer to the level of confidence, trust and respect the international community accords the Buhari-led Federal Government,” the AGF boasted.