The federal government has identified at least £2 billion stolen funds to be recovered from different countries of the world, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has said.
Mr Malami, who doubles as the Minister of Justice, said 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 pursued 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,” Mr Malami said.
Mr Malami’s spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, shared the video clips of the minister speaking with journalists on the sideline of the ongoing 76th United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States, on Tuesday.
The minister disclosed that the federal government had recovered about $700 million (about N287 billion at exchange rate of $1 to N410) in stolen funds stashed in foreign countries in the past four years.
He said the federal government was “building consensus” in an effort to ensure the repatriation of the £2 billion and Nigeria’s other stolen funds in different parts of the country. 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,” he said.
“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.”
President Muhammadu Buhari and his delegation arived at the JF Kennedy International Airport in New York ahead of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, ahead of the meeting of world leaders which commenced on Tuesday.
Mr Malami also said he would not release the names of those indicted for sponsoring terrorism.
He said naming them would be “preemptive” in ongoing investigations.
He highlighted some of the steps the government had taken to block the funding of terrorism activities since investigations on the matter started earlier in the year.
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He said, “As far as terrorism financing is concerned, we have identified those responsible for the funding.
“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.”
He also assured that the arrest and detention of suspects were based on court orders.
“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.”
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government recently placed six Nigerians on its terror list.
The six Nigerians were among 38 other individuals whom the UAE government listed to be financiers of terrorism.
This came barely a year after the Gulf country convicted six other Nigerians indicted for funding Boko Haram, a dreaded terror group in Nigeria, last November.
PREMIUM TIMES had on Monday reported Femi Adesina, a presidential spokesperson, saying the federal government is not interested in naming and shaming sponsors of terrorism.
Mr Adeshina said “the government is more interested in ensuring that those found guilty will be brought to book”.
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