…as Buhari’s aide contradicts Accountant-General’s claim
Special Assistant to President Muhammdu Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, says the £4.2m looted by a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, which the Federal Government recently repatriated from the United Kingdom, has not been returned to the state.
Onochie’s statement contradicts the announcement made by the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, on Tuesday, that the looted fund had been returned to Delta State.
Idris spoke in Abuja on Tuesday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for Effective Efficient Management and Utilisation.
But Onochie in a post on her social media handles, said Nigeria risked losing other fund looted by the former Delta governor if the money is refunded to Delta.
According to her, “We know what we heard but we also know the facts. Let me remind us. Before we start “admonishing, praising and decamping”, let’s pause for a minute and breathe in and out! Was the recovered Ibori loot returned to the Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa-led Delta state government? No.
“Now, let me remind us. The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Mallami, the British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing and other relevant agencies held a press conference openly telling the world when the money would be returned, and the specific projects the money was approved for. Openly.
“When it was delayed, the Attorney General informed Nigerians of the reason for the delay. When the loot arrived, Nigerians were informed too. The conditions under which the funds were repatriated, still stand. Again, no penny was paid to the Delta State Government. If we break the conditions for getting this chicken amount, how do we get the elephant amount that is still coming?
“The British High Commissioner is also keeping an open eye on those projects. I know what we all heard. But we also know the facts. Pres. Muhammadu Buhari runs an open government. The Attorney General is part of the open policy. Nothing hidden.
“Nigerians would be the first to know if he decides to break an agreement made with Britain. I very much doubt it. He’s an Honourable man.God bless Nigeria.”
The AGF’s position contradicts the earlier position of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who recently stated that the state could not benefit from the recovered loot.
Malami had stated that Delta was not captured in the agreements signed with the British Government, which was a precondition for the release of the money.
He had stressed that Nigeria would execute other projects with the fund other than the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge, which had been listed in the agreement.
Incidentally, Malami also appeared before the committee together with the accountant-general.