Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has said that 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.
Malami said this on Tuesday 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 Minister said further 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 (U.K.) and Ireland.
“We are looking to recover further 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 U.K associated with certain personalities,” Malami said.
According to the minister, 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 assured 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 assets 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 jeopardize investigation.
He however, assured that the government has 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 the purpose of these investigations, 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.
Recall that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this September named six Nigerians on the list of 38 individuals sponsoring terrorism, following the country’s earlier conviction of 6 other Nigerians for funding the activities the terrorist group Boko Haram.