The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has defended his labeling of the repatriated $311 million looted by the former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha, as ‘Abacha assets’.
Malami had come under heavy criticism on social media especially on Twitter for three days over what Nigerians and other commentators described as Malami’s improper labeling of the proceeds of the shocking and massive looting perpetrated by the then dictator, THE DAILY VENDOR reports.
But defending his comment in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Dr Umar Gwandu, on Wednesday, Malami claimed he deliberately referred to the funds as ‘Abacha assets’ because it had been repatriated to the country and as such qualified as Nigerian Government’s assets.
Malami said the criticism of his reference to the funds as ‘Abacha assets’ was a needless media hype, he urged Nigerians to focus on the utilization of the funds for public good.
“Beyond the issues of verbal dexterity and vocal acrobatics, Nigerians should focus more on effective utilisation of the recovered looted funds in accordance with the content of the signed tripartite agreement in the interest of the Nigerian public,” he said.
“The office (of the AGF) maintained that the choice of words was deliberate,” he said.
“It is to be noted that by way of antecedence that Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has been consistently describing the recovered funds as ‘Abacha loot’ at several fora during the process of recovery of the looted funds, particularly before the eventual repatriation of the funds.
“The point needs to be made that when the seal of legitimacy was appended to the funds by way of repatriation, it became an asset in favour of the Federal Government as a beneficial owner of same.”
“It may interest the general public to note that there is a unit called Assets Recovery and Management Unit at the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
“The use of the word ‘assets’ in relation to the post-recovery of looted assets is to qualify same as Federal Government assets.”
But it however infuriated some Twitter and Facebook users who challenged that the description of the funds as ‘Abacha assets’ could imply that the funds might be returned to the Abacha family.
Malami while announcing in his tweet on Monday that the repatriation of the $311m from the United States of America and Bailiwick of Jersey, referred to the funds as ‘Abacha assets’.
The AGF however reassured that the money would be expended on identified infrastructural projects as agreed in the tripartite contract between the governments of Nigeria, the US and Bailiwick of Jersey, before the repatriation of the funds.