In a statement he issued yesterday in Abuja, the minister said in 2013, the United States Department of Justice, (USDOJ) as part of its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, commenced a forfeiture proceeding to confiscate approximately $550 million that had been corruptly obtained by late General Abacha and his associates (the “Abacha Case”).
According to him, a portion of the Abacha loot, valued at $458 million, has now been forfeited to the United States. He said: “On December 17, 2015, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia entered final judgment forfeiting certain Abacha assets valued at $458 million.
“The forfeiture proceeding as to those assets is therefore concluded and the forfeited assets are ripe for repatriation to the innocent victim – Nigeria.
“However, Godson Nnaka has filed an appeal against the judgment of forfeiture, falsely claiming to be entitled to a portion of the assets as compensation for legal services allegedly rendered to Nigeria. His claim is untrue.
“The USDOJ has represented to us that the appeal is the only issue delaying repatriation of the forfeited assets to Nigeria. They have explained that the forfeited assets are not located in the US and that only upon disposition of the appeal would the US then have a final judgment upon which it can seek the retrieval of the forfeited assets which are frozen in multiple foreign jurisdictions and return same to Nigeria.
“The forfeiture of the remaining $100 million in assets is still pending. The forfeiture of these assets is being contested by certain individuals, who are related to Atiku Bagudu (General Abacha’s associate) and who claim that these assets are the subject matter of a private family trust.
“In this regard, we are cooperating with the USDOJ by providing them with the documents, information, witnesses and other evidence required to secure expeditious forfeiture of this portion of the Abacha loot.”