The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has come under criticism for christening the recovered $311m looted by former dictator, General Sani Abacha as “assets”.
Malami had while announcing receipt of the fund on Monday wrote on Twitter: “I am happy to confirm that the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 4th May, 2020 received $311,797,866.11 of the Abacha assets repatriated from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.”
Reacting however, many Nigerians wondered why Malami would describe a looted fund as assets.
Commenting on this, the publisher of Sahara Reporters and convener of #RevolutionNow protests, Omoyele Sowore, wrote on Twitter: “Attorney General Abubakar Malami, woke up one day, labelled Nigerian wealth looted by the late Gen. Sani Abacha “Abacha assets” and people think he is stupid. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Just telling you all that we are just warehousing these assets for Abachas. #RevolutionNow.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency has revealed that the recently recovered $311 million looted by former Head of State, General Sani Abacha, would be used to fund critical projects across the country.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said such fund would be used to facilitate construction works on Lagos to Ibadan Expressway in the South-West, Abuja to Kano road in the north and second Niger Bridge in the eastern part of the country.
The statement read: “On Monday, May 4, 2020, some $311 million – stolen from the citizens of Nigeria during the Abacha regime – were safely returned to our country from the United States.
“These funds have already been allocated, and will be used in full, for vital and decades-overdue infrastructure development: The second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressways – creating tens of thousands of Nigerian construction jobs and local skills, which can then be useful in future projects.
“Part of the funds will also be invested in the Mambilla Power Project which, when completed, will provide electricity to some three million homes for over ten million citizens – in our country.
“The receipt of these stolen monies – and the hundreds of millions more that have already been returned from the United Kingdom and Switzerland – an opportunity for the development of our nation, made far harder for those decades the country was robbed of these funds.
“Indeed, previous monies returned last year from Switzerland – some $320 million US dollars – are already being used for the government’s free school feeding scheme, a stipend for millions of disadvantaged citizens, and grain grants for those in severe food hardship.
“Without these funds, the fight against COVID-19 would have been even tougher.
“The latest return is a testament to the growing and deepening relationship between the government of Nigeria and the government of the United States.
“Without the cooperation both from the UK Government, the US Executive branch and US Congress, we would not have achieved the return of these funds at all.
“For years, many countries deemed successive Nigerian administrations as too corrupt, too venal and too likely to squander and re-steal the stolen monies – so they did not return the funds.
“Today, US, UK and other jurisdictions have found the partnership with the nation of Nigeria they can finally trust.
“The Buhari administration is committed to – and is enacting – total and zero tolerance to corruption in politics and public administration.
“The days when government was seen and used by the political class as their personal ATM to empty are over.
“The time of better governance and clean hands in the affairs of state is here to stay.”