ABUJA — The Federal Government, yesterday, stated that the United States was reluctant to release over $550 million to Nigeria, being proceeds from identified Gen Sani Abacha loot in the country. Special Adviser to the President on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, made the disclosure when she addressed newsmen on Asset Recovery and Asset Return organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, in collaboration with Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa. Erewa said: “America is keeping the funds, they are telling us about technicalities, they are saying recover doesn’t mean they can return them.”
She lamented the delay in the return of the funds, stating that the person who steals is just as guilty as the person who keeps stolen funds. She said: “The person who steals is a criminal, the person who keeps known stolen funds is also a criminal. We are here to state that every Nigerian in disapora, friends of Nigeria, should join this committee in demanding that every stolen fund of Nigeria recovered in any part of the world should be returned to Nigeria. “You can’t give us aid of a billion dollars and keep a billion dollars of funds you have recovered from Nigeria. We will join the committee to embark on an advocacy with Nigerians outside the world to appeal to these nations to do everything possible to return what belongs to Nigeria.” In his remarks, Chairman of PACAC, Prof Itse Sagay, SAN, stated that the fund was different from the earlier $480 million forfeited to the US following a court judgment in August 2014. Sagay lamenting that the tracing, seizure, forfeiture and return of Nigeria’s assets laundered outside the country had become a challenge due to the uncooperative nature of the countries in possession of the fund.