The federal government has identified at least £2 billion funds stolen from Nigeria and stashed away in different countries, stressing the government will recover the looted funds.
Nigeria’s attorney-general and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, revealed this yesterday while speaking with journalists on the sidelines of the 76th United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, United States, according to video clips shared by his aide, Umar Gwandu.
Malami is in the entourage of President Muhammadu Buhari that arrived in New York on Monday ahead of the UN meeting which started on Tuesday.
The justice minister said that the money, which amounts to about N1.12 trillion (at the official exchange rate of £1 to N560), is only a part of Nigeria’s looted assets being trailed in different countries, including the United Kingdom and Ireland.
He also disclosed that Nigeria has made $700 million looted funds recovery in the last four years.
“We are looking to further recover about £2 billion among others, but then that does not mean to say that no other associated assets are being pursued in other countries of the world, including Ireland and other countries.
“We are pursuing a lot of assets across the globe and we are coordinating further meetings relating to the new recovery in the UK associated with certain personalities”,Malami said.
According to him, the federal government had recovered about $700 million (about N287 billion at an exchange rate of $1 to N410) in stolen funds stashed in foreign countries in the past four years.
He gave assurance that the federal government was “building consensus” which will enable the repatriation of the £2 billion and other stolen funds, even though he did not give details.
“But then I would not like to give further disclosure taking into consideration the need not to be preemptive as far as our strategy is concerned.
“We are building consensus in terms of driving resolutions and processes associated with asset recovery, so when we are pursuing the assets in their own right, we are equally trying as much as possible on what we can do in building consensus around making the process of recovery (easier) locally and internationally,” he said.
On why the government has refused to release the names of those allegedly indicted for sponsoring terrorism in Nigeria, he noted that naming them would be “preemptive’’ and could jeopardise investigation.
He, however, assured that the government had initiated measures to block the funding of terrorism activities since investigations on the matter started earlier in the year.
“As far as terrorism financing is concerned, we have identified those responsible for the funding,” he said, adding that “the arrest and detention of suspects were based on court orders.
“Secondly, we have blocked the leakages associated with the funding, and we are embarking on an aggressive investigation in terms of the fight against terrorism.
“But then, the truth of the matter is that investigations are ongoing, and I would not want to be preemptive in terms of making disclosures as far as investigation is concerned.
“But one thing I can tell you, for sure, is that whatever we (government) do in terms of detention and arrest, we have indeed obtained court orders, taking into consideration where the court exercised its discretion in terms of granting the order, that we can have them in custody pending the conclusion of the investigation,” he said.
Earlier this month, United Arab Emirates (UAE) named six Nigerians on the list of 38 individuals sponsoring terrorism, following the country’s earlier conviction of six other Nigerians for funding the activities the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
In New York, PMB Pledges To Tackle Reverse Biodiversity Loss
Also at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 76) in New York, USA, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday declared that the federal government had initiated some specific actions to tackle and reverse the severe trend of biodiversity loss which affects the whole world.
The president spoke in a video message to the hybrid high-level event tagged “Transformative Actions for Nature and People” on the sidelines of UNGA 76.
Aside championing regional and inter-regional cooperation towards addressing the scourge, President Buhari in a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, outlined other measures to include: “Expansion of protected areas including the establishment of ten new national parks across the country as well as the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) pursuant to the 30X30 Agenda of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), and domestication of relevant International Agreements, Conventions as well as Laws and Policies for the protection and conservation of biodiversity.”
Buhari added that “leveraging the cooperation and partnerships of the development partners as well as international organisations and coalitions for concrete action against deforestation and biodiversity loss, and promotion and increased investments in climate-positive and nature-positive economy for sustainable environment and land use practices” were other areas being worked on to confront the challenge.
He expressed gratitude to the president of Costa Rica, His Excellency Carlos Alvarado Quesada whose country currently chairs the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People (HAC) – of which Nigeria is also a member and co-chair – for the opportunity to be part of “this great event.”