Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu is to pocket $100 million (about N3.6 billion) from the Sani Abacha loot, report says.
kleptocrat, Sani Abacha, according to court documents reported by
Bloomberg, putting cooperation with the United States over Abacha loot
recovery at risk.
The deal was first negotiated in 2003 under the former president,
Olusegun Obasanjo, and then updated in 2018 under President Muhammadu
Buhari, whose administration now reportedly insists on not backing
recovery efforts against Mr Bagudu
Mr Bagudu was one of Mr Abacha’s bagman, using phoney companies to
siphon and move stolen funds across transnational borders, when the
kleptocrat ruled Nigeria between 1993 and 1998. He spent six months in
a U.S. federal prison in 2003, while awaiting extradition to British
dependent Jersey to answer questions relating funds traced to the
account of Doraville Properties Corp, a company he controlled
alongside Mohammed Abacha, to stash stolen money abroad.
But before he was handed over to authorities at Jersey, Mr Bagudu
quickly negotiated a deal with the U.S. and Jersey authorities to
“return more than $163 million of the allegedly laundered assets to
Nigeria in exchange for Jersey’s withdrawal of the extradition request
and his return to Nigeria,” according to a court document previously
reported by PREMIUM TIMES.
The 2003 deal was approved by a United Kingdom court, Bloomberg now
reports, referencing a December 23 memorandum opinion by a Washington
D.C. judge John Bates. In exchange for the money forfeited by Mr
Bagudu under the 17-year old deal, Nigeria would not file any civil
and criminal claims against him over “his involvement in government
corruption,” according to the reported court document.
The implication: “Nigeria renounced any interest whatsoever” in Mr
Bagudu’s trust assets, including those America wants to help the
African nation recover, the court opinion reportedly stated.
American court filings reportedly showed Mr Bagudu successfully sued
the Nigerian government in 2018 for violating the 2003 deal. Then, the
administration of Mr Buhari entered into an updated deal with the
Kebbi governor, who like the president is a member of the ruling All
The updated deal requires a transfer of ownership of investment
portfolios, worth 141 million euros ($155 million) to Nigeria, which
would then pay 98.5 million euros ($106 million or N38.5 billion) to
Mr Bagudu and his affiliates, according to the Washington judge’s
opinion cited by Bloomberg.
The deal has since not been executed as the UK blocked the funds
transfer following America’s request.
Notwithstanding, Nigeria reportedly insists it is bound by the updated
2018 deal and would not “assist” America in Mr Bagudu’s case.
Bloomberg reports that American officials are opposing the deal meant
to help Mr Bagudu a part of the illicit funds.
Nigeria’s justice minister, Abubakar Malami, did not respond to
requests for comment on this report, nor did Mr Bagudu. Mr Bagudu has
consistently shunned PREMIUM TIMES’ repeated requests for his comment
on our reporting of his role in helping Mr Abacha move stolen funds
The moves to recover the stolen funds linked to the Abacha junta
started just after Mr Obasanjo got to the office in 1999. In April
2002, the Abacha family returned $1 billion to Nigeria in a deal which
involved the Swiss Federal Office of Justice. The deal allowed the
family to keep $100 million and required the government to drop “some
criminal charges” against Mohammed, Mr Abacha’s son, New York Times
In 2006, another $723 million Abacha loot was returned to Nigeria from
Switzerland but the use of the recovery was largely unaccounted,
Transparency International said.
“That past experience led Switzerland to controversially attach
conditions to the repatriation of this batch of Abacha loot (US$322
million in 2018), including third party oversight – meaning that the
World Bank will now monitor the distribution of the funds,” reported
Nigeria has also recovered other tranches of Abacha loot, including
the latest, US$308 million, laundered by Kebbi governor, Mr Bagudu,
Mr Abacha was a notorious kleptocrat and is listed alongside
Indonesia’s Suharto and Mobutu Seko of Zaire (now DR Congo) among the
worst state official thieves in the world by Transparency
International. It is estimated that Mr Abacha stole between three
billion and five billion dollars, most from Nigeria’s oil wealth.