The United Kingdom and Nigeria have reached an agreement to return £4.2 million (N2.2 billion) seized from former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori.
The agreement between the two countries was sealed on Tuesday in Abuja.
Ibori, a former Governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, was convicted by a UK court in 2012 and sentenced to 13 years in jail after admitting fraud of nearly £50 million (N26.3 billion), although prosecutors said the actual amount stolen was about £250 million (N131.7 billion).
Regarding the return and management of stolen assets recovered from the former Delta governor and his associates, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said, the agreement has underscored the fact that “international cooperation and mutual trust can yield great benefits for the citizenry in developing countries who are the direct victims of acts of corruption.
“Hence, the governments of Nigeria and the United Kingdom have concluded negotiations for the return of £4.2m to Nigeria pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding earlier executed by the two governments in 2016.
“It is to be recalled that the Nigerian government had all along provided the required mutual assistance and backup to the British authorities while the prosecution of James Ibori lasted in London and today, we are rightfully taking benefit of that cooperation.”
Malami said he was confident that both the Nigerian and British governments remain committed to combating corruption and illicit financial flows and ensuring that looters do not find comfort or saFe haven for their respective territories.
He said in consonance with existing framework in the management of previous recoveries, the Federal Executive Council had directed that the instant repatriated funds should be deployed towards the completion of the following legacy projects: Second Niger Bridge, Abuja–Kano expressway and the Lagos–Ibadan expressway under the coordination of the Nigeria Social Investment Authority to ensure integrity of the process.
The Attorney-General said a reputable Civil Society Organisation had been engaged to monitor and supervise the expenditure of the recovered funds on the execution of these critical projects that are evenly spread across the country.
“We have established, as a government, a reputation of transparency and accountability of utilization of recovered assets as a nation. These assets will in no way be different in terms of application,” he said.
The former Governor pleaded guilty to 10 offences relating to conspiracy to launder funds from the state, substantive counts of money laundering and one count of obtaining money transfer by deception and fraud.
Ibori was released in 2016 after serving a fraction of his term.