Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay (SAN), has reacted to the return of $300m looted by the late dictator, Sani Abacha.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, confirmed the return of the looted funds on Monday in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu.
Speaking in an interview with SaharaReporters on Monday, the professor of law said it undermines the sovereignty of Nigeria for the United States to give conditions on the use of the money by the Nigerian Government.
The United States Government had told Nigeria to be ready to “replace” the $300m General Sani Abacha loot it returned to the country if the fund was misused.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, the money must be used for the agreed public projects highlighted in the agreement signed with it before the fund was returned to Nigeria.
Sagay further explained that although it was wrong to give conditions, the US resorted to that based on previous experience with returned loot which was stolen upon getting to Nigeria.
Reacting specifically as to whether it was wrong for the US to give conditions on how the money should be spent, Sagay said, “In principle, it is wrong for them (US) to do that, it undermines our sovereignty and I will almost say it’s an insult of some sort given the fact that it is our money, which was taken to their jurisdiction illegally.
“What they (US) are doing is based on experience. We have had a lot of loot; Abacha loot released in the past which was simply relooted by those in power. That happened a lot and the whole world knows that that is why they have been giving conditions.
“You find that the social investment project was as a result of this type of situation, where the World Bank was supervising the project because that was the condition, on which whatever money that was released was released.
“In the past, those funds were ‘relooted’ by those in power. It’s a pity because those in power now are the very antithesis of those who were in power then but the international community is not aware of that and it is not prepared to countenance or appreciate that fact.
“I think as long as both parties agree and that is what the government wanted to use it for in the first place or it was not imposed on them, it’s okay.
“Whatever is agreed to, usually it would be a good thing, usually, it will be for the benefit of the most vulnerable at times, maybe infrastructural project. Whatever it is, let the Nigerian government truly apply it to it and then the country will be better for it.”