The Nigerian government has kicked against an attempt by United States lawmaker, Senator Chuck Grassley, to block the repatriation of $320m laundered by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
Grassley, who is the highest ranking senator in the US, had asked the Department of Justice why the US was returning such funds to Nigeria despite the high record of human rights violation perpetrated by the government of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The US senator, who is an ally of President Donald Trump, wondered why the US should help Nigeria to repatriate Abacha loot when it was clear that the next tranche from the United Kingdom would be given to Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, an alleged accomplice of Abacha.
In the letter dated April 1, 2020, which was addressed to Deborah Connor, Chief Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the DOJ, Grassley made reference to a Bloomberg report which exposed Nigeria’s arrangement with Bagudu.
The letter read in part, “In 2014, the Isle of Jersey, a British dependency seized more than $320m laundered by the corrupt former dictator of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha. After a long legal battle, the Isle of Jersey and the United States have entered into an agreement to repatriate this money back to Nigeria in the coming months.
“Yet, according to a recent Bloomberg article, the current Nigerian government is refusing to help the US Department of Justice finalise a second forfeiture action against a separate $100m in Abacha loot.
“In addition to this lack of cooperation, if Nigeria did receive the second batch of funds, it intends to return the money to an official who DOJ says was involved in corruption with Abacha.”
Recall that the now Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu was a close associate of Abacha and had seemingly helped the military dictator launder much of his loot.