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New Jersey Will Give Back To Nigeria The $8.9 Million Stolen During Jonathan Era

The US authorities will recover $ 8.9 million stolen by corrupt state officials to use to purchase property in 2014 and return it to Nigeria’s government.

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US Court Reverts $8.9m Looted in 2014 to Nigeria

Recently, a court in New Jersey in the United States ruled for repatriating assets valued at approximately $8.9 million to Nigeria that were allegedly embezzled by Nigerian officials around 2014. During the Boko Haram insurgency from 2009 to 2015, these money transfers were wrapped up in government-approved contracts for arms procurement. As per the authorities, Jersey’s Attorney General served a forfeiture notice on the Royal Court in Jersey on 29 November 2023 that was approved on January 12, 2024.

A Good Start For New Jersey And Nigeria To 2024

The beginning of 2024 for New Jersey law practices and Nigerian officials would be great with the news to get back the illegally transferred assets. The Nigerian government was headed by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 who lost reelection bid to immediate president Muhammadu Buhari in that year, stated in a news report. The court documents revealed that the property was acquired by high-ranking officials of certain Nigerian government departments, using stolen funds from Nigeria in 2014. It is only with such criminal schemes as money laundering and asset layering that could incidentally lead to acquiring wealth.

The US court observed that the diverted funds were aimed at purchasing weapons for Nigerian forces to fight terror organizations. However, they were channeled through foreign bank accounts into and out of companies to members of the former ruling PDP family during the 2015 general elections. The court record noted that the tainted property was channeled through Jersey as part of a scheme of corruption in which third-party contractors were used to drain off government funds for personal enrichment by Nigerian officials and their accomplices.

How High Ranking Officials Participate In The Corruption In Nigeria?

National sources state that Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party governed the country during 2010-2015. It is also worthwhile to recall that much has been made of the acquisition of arms in fighting an insurgency with a former NSA, Sambo Dasuki accused then and now by critics for diverting funds meant as security equipment.

In late 2014, a private jet owned by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor who was then the President of CAN in Nigeria had $10 million in cash confiscated at an airport in South Africa allegedly for purchasing military weapons. The Jersey court suggested that a considerable number of the funds, originally intended for legal arms trade cases, had been diverted to foreign bank accounts and offshore front companies connected to Nigeria’s previous government. Having taken over from President Jonathan, Buhari jailed various PDP members who held senior positions and were found guilty in an arms deal scandal during the former government including Sambo Dasuki the then National Security Adviser.

US Law & Enforcement For This Corruption Case

His Majesty’s Attorney General Mark Temple KC  issued a forfeiture notice on November 29, 2023, under Article 10 (1) of the Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) Law 2018, requesting the confiscation of tainted property worth about US$8.9 million that Nigerian companies had deposited into a Jersey bank account in 2014. The Royal Court approved the Attorney General’s request to seize that property on January 12, 2024.

Mark Temple KC stated that this recovery of $8.9 million shows how effective the Forfeiture Law 2018 can be in recovering assets obtained through corruption and returning those funds to victims of criminality. He further shared that, I plan to enter into a negotiation with the Federal Republic of Nigeria and work out an agreement for asset returns.

However, the Jersey government admitted that most of the money intended for arms purchase was redirected through offshore bank accounts to and from shell companies.

In the ending part, it won’t be wrong to say that these efforts of the court demonstrate the hopeful rays for the international finance dealing layouts. Authorities have invited civilians to trust for a brighter and safer future while mandating them to follow the rule of law and not conduct any illegal activity. The ECCU of the Law Officers’ Department, in collaboration with Nigeria’s Federal Republic and supported by FIU-Jersey, has worked closely in the interest of Nigerian people to recover this tainted property. This case marks the culmination of a complex and lengthy asset forfeiture investigation conducted by ECCU for the Royal Court’s order. States, Institutions, financial groups, and individuals should abide by all laws to maintain conformity in society.

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Published Date

January 19, 2024

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