The French authorities have announced plans to return fresh $150m Sani Abacha loot to Nigeria. This was disclosed during the GFAR Action Series by the head of the French delegation to the 10th Session of State Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (CoSP10), Julien Buissart, Deputy Chief, Division for Economic Standard and Anti-Corruption, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Civil society organisations from Nigeria at the 10th Session of the UNCAC-CoSP in a swift reaction to the announcement during the GFAR Action Series at CoSP10 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, expressed concern that the agreement was not signed during CoSP10, just as it happened during the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) in 2017 in Washington, D.C., when the Swiss government signed MoU with Nigeria and World Bank for the return of $322.5m recovered Abacha loot.
The Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor, says, “We had expected the French authority to capitalise on the unique opportunity of CoSP10 to sign the MoU with Nigerian government officials led by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi present at the conference to actualise the signing of this MoU as part of the take away from the Conference. France has missed an opportunity to display a commitment to expeditious return of asset recovery.”
“I am excited that the work we started through persistent engagement while I served as Special Adviser to President Buhari has yielded fruit and will lead to tremendous Developmental impact. The African Center for Asset Recovery and Sustainable Development will continue to engage with the government to advocate transparency embedded in GFAR through CSO monitoring,” Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, the Executive Director of the African Centre noted.
“The cost of Assets tracing, forfeiture, and recovery are becoming additional burden of corruption for victim countries, and destination countries should understand the moral burden on them to prevent the proliferation of toxic funds and assets into their system than the current posture of recovery champions,” said Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman, Governing Board of HEDA Resource Centre.