Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Bagudu has denied any wrong doing over a report of alleged attempts by the federal government to hand over about $100 million, United States authorities say was stolen by a former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha to him.
The governor who spoke to Daily Trust in an exclusive interview, said that he believed the report was aimed at using the media to sensationalise the case while the U.S. authorities were using it as a ploy to confiscate recovery of the money by the Nigerian government, adding that the money was frozen in the UK and not the U.S.
He added that his name was only joined as an associate of the Abacha government and though he signed an agreement with the federal government under former president Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003, up to 2013 none of his assets was frozen in Nigeria, and therefore he did not admit criminal liability.
According to a copy of the agreement obtained by Daily Trust in Abuja last night, it says if at any stage Bagudu returned to Nigeria he would not be arrested and in case of any mistaken arrest unconditional bail would be granted him in respect of the Abuja proceedings, the amended Abuja proceedings, the delegated proceedings or any criminal proceedings existing or future relating to the resolved matters as in the principal agreement.
The agreement was accompanied by a presidential statement in respect of Global Settlements between Bagudu and his affiliates and the Federal Republic of Nigeria signed by former president Olusegun Obasanjo on August 18, 2003.
The letter listed Bagudu’s affiliates as David Liewellyn Jones, Smith and Tyres Limited, Robinson International, and AB’s wife, children, brothers and sisters.
There was a general feeling of indignation across the country yesterday over the report of the plan by the FG to transfer the funds to Bagudu, a top member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). A Bloomberg report noted that the commitment to transfer the funds to Bagudu appeared to undermine President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to check corruption in the country.
It quoted the U.S. Department of Justice as saying that Bagudu was involved in corruption with Abacha, and contended that the Nigerian government was hindering U.S. efforts to recover allegedly laundered money it says was traced to Bagudu.
It added that the Buhari administration says a 17-year-old agreement entitles Bagudu to the funds and prevents Nigeria from assisting the U.S., according to recent filings from the District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington.
The disagreement, according to Bloomberg, may hamper future cooperation between Nigeria and the U.S. to recover money moved abroad by Abacha.
“This case illustrates how complex and contentious repatriating stolen assets to Nigeria can be,” Bloomberg quoted Matthew Page, an associate fellow at London-based Chatham House and former Nigeria expert for U.S. intelligence agencies, as saying. “Instead of welcoming U.S. efforts, Nigeria’s lawyers appear to be supporting the interests of one of the country’s most powerful families,” he added.