Barring any unforeseen development, the United States will be repatriating the $550 million Abacha loot, still trapped in the country, to Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said.
Speaking in an interview with Sunday Vanguard, Malami confirmed that Nigeria had met major conditions set out for the return of the loot.
According to the Justice Minister, what is left for the draw down relates to the completion of major paper work by the U.S.
“We have done our part by providing the necessary documents required by the U.S Department of Justice and proving that we did not appoint Nnanka Godson as our lawyer to trace and recover any money for the country,” Malami said. “What is basically remaining is paperwork to be done internally by the U.S. We have also appointed a senior Nigerian official based in the U.S to be relating with them in order to facilitate the fund repatriation.”
A United States District Court had, on September 17, 2016 dismissed a case by a Nigerian lawyer seeking to stop the repatriation of the $550 million loot to Nigeria until the payment of his legal fees purportedly worth $320 million by the Nigerian government. Justice John D. Bates of the U.S District Court, who gave the ruling in an appeal filed by Nigeria against Nnaka’s claim that he be paid the huge amount, paved the way for efforts to be channelled towards drawing down the cash.
Bates, in dismissing Nnaka’s case, held that the claimant was not entitled to such payment since he was not a party to the forfeiture case filed by the US Department of Justice in conjunction with Nigeria. Nigeria, through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, also filed a robust opposition to the Nnaka’s motion for the payment of the lien and also asked the court to bar Nnaka from making subsequent filings in that case. Ruling on the case, the District Court entered an order denying Nnaka’s Motion for a Charging Lien.
The Court also specifically ruled that Nnaka’s participation in this case must now come to an end.” Bates said that Nnaka did not meet the basic prerequisites to be considered as a proper party in the case and to be paid the amount he requested for, having not qualified to represent Nigeria.
The judge also ruled out Nnaka for the payment since he had not won any judgment for Nigeria.
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