United States to return $500m loot to Nigeria

Donald Trump (right) receives President Buhari at the White House
Donald Trump (right) receives President Buhari at the White House

Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Donald Trump have agreed for the two attorney generals of both countries to draw a roadmap on how $500 million looted funds that has been traced would be returned to Nigeria.

Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, who made the disclosure when he briefed journalists alongside the ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah and Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, at the end of the business meeting Buhari had with CEOs of Nigeria and US businesses, said the roadmap was drawn yesterday afternoon.

The AGF noted that three key remarks from Trump consolidated on the general overview of what transpired between the two presidents.

According to him, Trump’s acknowledgement of Buhari as a real leader, his acknowledgment that the administration has indeed succeeded in cutting down corruption and the payment of N135 million compensation to victims of the Apo six killed in 2013, was an indication that the meeting was a fruitful one.

Malami also said Trump’s commitment towards assets recovery and repatriation of looted funds was also demonstrated during the meeting.

There was a clear political goodwill and commitment that has now been given by the respective governments in terms of working together towards the repatriation of the looted funds and assets.

“To that extent, there has been clear directives for both attorney generals to meet and have a roadmap for the repatriation of the assets. That meeting is now slated for tomorrow (yesterday) to work on the repatriation of over $500 million which is ready for repatriation subject to clearing the bureaucratic bottlenecks,” he revealed.

Asked whether the $500 million is the first tranche or there was a possibility of more trailing, the AGF replied: “One thing I can tell you is that investigation is ongoing and the numbers keeps changing with time. But as far as the immediate negotiations with US is concern, it is a figure between $500 million and above. That is what is on the table immediately for discussions.”

Malami was, however, silent on the timeline the money will be repatriated.

“I can’t state categorically what we are looking at in timeline sense but the truth is we are looking at the shortest practicable time. The fact that there is political commitment by the two presidents is a clear demonstration of the fact that the possibility of having the money repatriated within the shortest possible time cannot be ruled out.”

He said another subject Buhari’s administration got commendations for was in the area of human rights record in the country.

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