NIGERIA’S government has acknowledged receipt of over $300m handed over to it by the government of UK offshore island Jersey which was released to facilitate the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
In January this year, the authorities on the island of jersey agreed to return a sum of $321m which General Sani Abacha had stashed in their banks. Former military dictator General Abacha, is believed to have looted a sum total of $5bn from the Nigerian treasury and stashed it in numerous accounts worldwide.
With the coronavirus pandemic hitting Nigeria hard economically, the authorities in Jersey expedited action on the release of the funds to enable the government offer palliatives to its hungry populace. This cash, stolen by General Abacha in the 1990s, before it was laundered through the US and hidden in a Jersey bank account, was recovered in June 2019 from the account of shell company Doraville.
It was returned by the US following a tripartite agreement between the three nations in February. As part of the repatriation Jersey will retain $5m and the US is eligible for the same, according to the US Department of Justice.
Jersey’s attorney-general Mark Temple, confirmed the island had transferred $314,305,568.54 to the US on March 2, from where it has now been forwarded on to Nigeria. Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s justice minister, said the money had been moved to a recovery account held by the Central Bank of Nigeria and would be paid to the National Sovereign Investment Authority within 14 days.
He added that the money is to be spent on infrastructure projects in the country, including the building of roads and bridges. Mr Malami said the recovered funds further consolidates the government’s record on repatriating stolen money.
Swiss authorities have already returned $300m to Nigeria as part of the seizures. A further $30m from Britain and $144m from France is expected to be recovered, according to the US Department of Justice.