ANEEJ hails U.S. for tracking Abacha loot

By Stella Omona

Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has commended the Department of Justice, United States of America for tracking more than $480 million in corruption proceeds hidden in bank accounts around the world by former Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha, his son, Mohammed Abacha, and other co-conspirators.

The U.S. Attorney- General, Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge, Valerie Parlave, of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement after a judgment was entered on August 6, 2014, by U.S. District Judge, John D. Bates, of the District of Columbia.

Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor, said through the singular act, the United States has demonstrated in practical terms that its territory can no longer be used for laundering looted assets from our country.

“We applaud the Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative of the United States and we appreciate all allies of Nigeria in Jersey, France, and the United Kingdom who worked under the initiative to make the asset recovery a success,” Ugolor said.

He also commended the Head of Nigerian Economic Team and Minister of Finance, Dr. Nngozi Okonjo Iweala, for her doggedness, astuteness and courage to ensure that the nation’s looted assets were tracked and repatriated to our dear fatherland to finance development.

He sought participation of the Nigerian Civil Society Organisations in the discussions of the transfer and utilisation of the recovered funds.

“There exists a model in our country, when $500 million was repatriated from the same Sani Abacha clan in 2004, the Nigerian Network of NGOs on Stolen Assets, led by ANEEJ worked with Swiss CSOs and the Swiss Government with our Federal Government where we agreed that the proceeds be used to finance projects under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“We strongly believe that forfeiture of proceeds of corruption during and after the military regime of General Sani Abacha represents significant milestones for the war against corruption in high places in Nigeria,” ANEEJ boss stated.