Letter to Delta group was about £80m Ibori loot -Malami
Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice has said the letter written by the Federal Government to the Urhobo Progress Uibonion (UPU) was in respect of the £80 million looted funds traced to ex-Delta State Governor James Ibori in the United Kingdom, but currently encumbered by his pending cases.
Malami, who spoke through his media aide, Dr. Umar Gwnadu, said the letter has no relationship with the £4.2 million Ibori-linked loot in respect of which litigations have been concluded and the UK authorities have undertaken to return.
Responding to a media report that the Federal Government appealed to the UPU to prevail on Ibori to withdraw his case in relation to the £4.2 million recovered loot, he said: “The report is a bit misleading. The letter was not specific to nor meant to address the €4.2 million, on which litigation has been completed. The issue was regarding the other assets related to Ibori.
“This letter was made in reference to his (Ibori’s) ongoing case in the UK where more than £80 million is held up because his appeal, which the Federal Government wants to recover as well.
“You may recall that the £4.2 million are related to families connected to Ibori, but this letter was made in reference to his ongoing case in the UK, where more than 80million is held up because of his appeal,” Gwandu said.
The letter, written by the Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform and International Relations, Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, was in response to a March 23, 2021 letter by the UPU, through its President-General, Joseph Omene, requesting that the £4.2m be used for projects in Delta State against the position of the Federal Government that it would be used to fund critical projects across the country.
Titled: “Re-commendation for retrieval of Delta’s stolen funds and request for review of projects to be executed with the retrieved funds,” the letter reads: “I am directed to inform (you) that the HAGF is in receipt of your letter dated 23rd March 2021 with regard to the above subject matter.
“The HAGF appreciates your concerns and welcomes the interest of UPU in the returned assets. The HAGF wishes to inform that he does not have the authority to approve projects for the application of returned assets.
“These decisions are taken at the Federal Executive Council after in-depth deliberations. The HAGF’s mandate is to implement the decisions of the council.
“I am also directed to inform further that the decision of the council is also guided by bilateral negotiations between Nigeria and the country from which the asset will be returned.
“Accordingly, Nigeria and the government of the United Kingdom or any other country for that matter must agree on a specific project in a transparent and accountable manner before a project is approved.
“However, the HAGF has directed that I inform you that the stumbling block in negotiating the return of assets linked to Ibori is the ongoing litigation by Mr James Ibori against the government of United Kingdom in the confiscation hearing in London.
“It is advisable that you approach Mr James Ibori to advise him to withdraw his appeals against the confiscation and repatriation of the assets linked to him, his family, and associates back to Nigeria.
“This is the only way to provide an enabling environment for negotiation on the use of the identified assets for Delta State.”