In a follow up to the alarm raised last year by the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, that Nigeria risked losing another $550 million recovered from the Abacha family to the government of U.S., Trump has been urged to return the looted funds to Nigeria.The monies are proceeds of corruption traced to former Nigerian dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha.
A Lagos-based group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), in an open letter to Trump yesterday, said that the proceeds were separate from the $480 million of Abacha-origin funds that have been forfeited to that under an August 2014 U.S. federal district court order.
SERAP in the letter signed by its U.S. Volunteer Counsel,Prof. Alexander W. Sierck and Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, told Trump that “the U.S. Department of Justice must promptly initiate civil asset forfeiture proceedings against these proceeds so as to fulfill several non-controversial commitments by the U.S. government to assist Nigeria in recovering assets looted by former Nigerian government officials.”
The letter, a copy of which was also sent to the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, reads in part: “SERAP urges your new administration to initiate discussions with the Nigerian government to fulfill these objectives within an agreed frame-work and timeline. Simultaneously, the administration should instruct the justice department to initiate civil asset forfeiture proceedings in regard to the above-referenced $500 million in assets described above.”
“SERAP notes that Article 51 of the UN Convention against Corruption provides for the return of “corrupt” assets to countries of origin as a fundamental principle. Article 43 provides likewise. Similarly, under Articles 47(3)(a) and (b) states parties have an obligation to return forfeited or confiscated assets in cases of public corruption, as here, or when the requesting party reasonably establishes either prior ownership or damages to the states.”
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