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Nigeria invests $308mn recovered Abacha loot in infrastructure projects

Jersey, Nigeria and US governments entered into an greement to repatriate the US$308 million of forfeited assets to Nigeria after about 20 years of negotiations and court cases.

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PUNCH to address Nigerian President as "Major General" and administration as "regime"
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria./AFP

The Nigerian government has signed an agreement with the governments of Jersey and United States for the recovery and transfer of $308 million looted by the country’s late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha and said it will be used for the completion of three mega projects: Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Expressway and the Second Niger bridge for the benefit of citizens.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami said this in a statement co-signed by Nigeria, Jersey and United States officials released in Abuja late Monday by the US embassy.

The Government of Jersey, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the United States of America entered into an Asset Recovery Agreement to repatriate the US$308 million of forfeited assets to Nigeria after about 20 years of negotiations and court cases.

“As you are aware, the government of Nigeria has committed that the assets will support and assist in expediting the construction of the three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria,” Malami said.

The justice minister went ahead to state that the projects currently being executed under the supervision of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority “as a public-private partnership (PPP) will boost economic growth and help alleviate poverty by connecting people and supply chains from the East to the West and to the Northern part of Nigeria, a vast area covering several kilometers with millions of the country’s population set to benefit from the road infrastructures.”

The funds were laundered by the late Abacha through the US banking system and then held in bank accounts in Jersey in the name of Doraville Properties Corporation, a BVI company, and in the name of the sons of the former Nigerian Head of State.

In 2014 a U.S. Federal Court in Washington DC forfeited the money as property involved in the illicit laundering of the proceeds of corruption arising in Nigeria during the period from 1993 to 1998 when General Abacha was Head of State.

The case is a result of extensive co-operation between Jersey authorities, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Nigerian authorities with crucial assistance from other governments around the world.

The Nigerian minister said the agreement has “culminated in a major victory, for Nigeria and other African countries as it recognizes that crime does not pay and that it is important for the international community to seek for ways to support sustainable development through the recovery and repatriation of stolen assets.”

The US, Jersey and Nigerian governments urged civil society organizations and the Nigerian public to be involved in the monitoring of the key infrastructure projects that will greatly enhance road transportation in the country to ease the burden of Nigerians.

Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, said:

“Since becoming aware that the alleged proceeds of Abacha corruption and money laundering had passed through Jersey financial institutions, the Jersey authorities have done everything within their power to investigate what happened and to return the money to its rightful owners, the people of Nigeria.”

US Deputy Assistant Attorney Brian Benczkowski announced the agreement on behalf of the United States.

Benczkowski said “the Department is pleased to enter into this agreement with The Bailiwick of Jersey and the Federal Republic of Nigeria to return this enormous amount of stolen funds for the benefit of the people harmed by the corruption in Nigeria.  Through the recovery of these funds — and this mutual agreement — the people of Nigeria can see the money they lost to corruption in flagrant disregard of the rule of law is returned through a lawful process.”

The agreement represents the culmination of two decades of intensive work by law enforcement officers in Jersey, the United States and Nigeria.

The return of the assets to Nigeria had been delayed by a number of hard-fought challenges by third parties which were defeated in the Courts in Jersey and the United States.

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Burkina Faso’s President Kabore Wins Reelection

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President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso has been re-elected to lead the West African nation for another five years.

Preliminary results from the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) on Thursday showed Kabore won 57.9% of the vote, while main challengers, Eddie Komboigo and Zephirin Diabre, got 15.5% and 12.5% respectively.

The President needed over 50% to avoid a second round.

Burkina Faso’s election, held on November 22, was largely marred by insecurity that prevented swathes of the West African country from voting.

His main opponents had accused Kabore, who was elected in 2015, of failing to contain Islamist and ethnic violence that forced 1 million people to flee their homes during his first term.

Kabore’s opponents have raised concerns about the validity of the vote count. But the electoral commission has dismissed those allegations and an international observer mission gave the election a mostly clean bill of health.

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President Buhari Will Set Nigeria On Fire If… -Governor Wike

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President Muhammadu Buhari will set Nigeria on fire if he chooses to turn a deaf ear to Nigerians’ demands, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State said on Thursday.

Wike, who spoke on a Channels TV programme, Sunrise Daily, said Buhari should implement the requests made at a meeting between Ministers, Federal lawmakers, and leaders of the six geopolitical zones over #EndSARS protests.

News Central reports that the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, led the presidential delegation. They met with Governors and leaders of the South-South geopolitical zone in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on Tuesday.

At the meeting, the South-South leaders, including the Rivers State governor demanded the restructuring of the country, in line with the principle of true federalism, saying it will guarantee peace, security and stability in the country.

Speaking of the meeting on Thursday, the Rivers state governor said: “I am not a pessimist. I don’t believe that because you didn’t do what you agreed to do yesterday, therefore, you will not do what you agree to do today. Even if he (Buhari) has not done what he told Nigerians he would do, he can say, look, I promised Nigerians yesterday, I didn’t do that and that is affecting my integrity and so, for people who know me, I will implement what I have said.

“People have raised the issue that they don’t think anything will come out of the dialogues. I don’t agree with them. I believe that if the President does not do it, given the opportunity he has now, he will be putting Nigeria on fire.”

He added,“He (Buhari) may not necessarily implement everything the people may want but let the people see the concrete evidence that under President Buhari, he has been able to implement one, two, three, four demands by the people.

“If he (Buhari) doesn’t take this opportunity now to implement some of these requests, I don’t think it will be very good for Nigerians and for his legacy.”

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East Africa Politics News

Uganda Jails Former Presidential Aspirant Three Years For Abusing Judges

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Ivan Samuel Ssebadduka, a former presidential aspirant in Uganda, has been jailed three years by the country’s Supreme Court for using abusive language against the judges, including calling them a “council of fools”.

The 36-year-old was jailed for contempt of court and will spend the next three years in Uganda Government Prison Kitalya.

Ssebadduka had in September filed a petition at the Supreme Court, seeking to stop a requirement for presidential aspirants to collect nomination signatures.

He also wanted the court to suspend the coronavirus safety restrictions issued by the health ministry on the conduct of campaign rallies.

He used the offensive remarks while defending the petition before the judges.

Chief Justice Alfonse Owinyi-Dollo was quoted as saying that criticism against judges should be accurate and fair, and should not infringe on the the rights of others.

On November 11, local media reported that Ssebadduka, a week after he was summoned by the Supreme Court to explain why he shouldn’t be found guilty for contempt of court after using abusive language against Judges, followed up with more insults. He described the Justices as incompetent, saying the accusations of contempt of court are baseless because the justices can’t challenge him legally.

“We didn’t offend you or you’re so-called Supreme Court because it is not a court in the first place. It is a Council of fools…” Ssebadduka’s response to the summons read in part.

He added, “It is very unfortunate that we entrust you with the judiciary because you don’t deserve to be judges. A judge must have judgment but it is very unfortunate that you don’t have common sense, which is common”, reads his response in part.

After the ruling, Ssebadduka was immediately handcuffed by security and driven to his next home of three years.

The Supreme court decision in Uganda is final as it is the last appellate court in the country, and unless the justices choose, for some reason, to review their decision or Ssebadduka gets a presidential pardon, he will be expected to serve his entire jail term.

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