On May 4th, the US Department of Justice announced that it has repatriated $311.7 million to the government of Nigeria. Former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and his associates had pushed a large amount of money accumulated through corrupt operations into the US financial system. In February, the US had signed a trilateral agreement with the governments of Nigeria and Jersey to repatriate such monies.
The amount that the US forfeited is the black money that Abacha and his associates laundered during and after his dictatorship from 1993 to 1998. They embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria and laundered the amount through US financial institutions.
As part of the trilateral agreement, the money repatriated to Nigeria is designated for three critical infrastructure projects. These are construction projects that Nigeria had already authorized – the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja-Kano road. The forfeited assets will thus benefit all the people of Nigeria.
The agreement also cites the steps needed to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of these assets. An independent auditor must review the finances of these projects. Additionally, an independent civil society organization must monitor the progress of these projects. Moreover, no portion of these assets can be used to aid those who indulged in Abacha’s corruption.