By Taiwo Okanlawon
The Federal Government has written to the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) to beg former Delta State Governor, James Ibori to withdraw his suit against the United Kingdom on the planned repatriation of about £4.2 million linked to him.
According to a report by Barrister NG, the government also promised UPU that it would create an enabling environment for the consideration of the appeal by the union that the looted asset be used to implement projects in Delta state.
UPU, under the leadership of Engineer Joseph Omene, had asked the Nigerian Government to use the said loot to implement projects in the state when it is repatriated.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had also disclosed that funds looted by the former Delta Governor, will be repatriated to Nigeria soon.
The AGF attributed the delay in receiving the £4.2m loot to issues around bank documentations.
However, in a letter addressed to Omene, the Attorney General of the Federation noted that the suit filed by Chief Ibori against the United Kingdom on the confiscated assets has become a stumbling block for repatriation.
The AGF letter with the title, “Re-Commendation for Retrieval of Delta’s Stolen Funds and request for Review of Projects to be Executed with the Retrieved Funds”, was signed by Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, the Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform and International Relations.
The letter read, “I am directed to inform (you) that the HAGF is in receipt of your letter dated 23rd March 2021 with regard to the above subject matter. The HAGF appreciates your concerns and welcomes the interest of UPU in the returned assets.
“The HAGF wishes to inform that he does not have the authority to approve projects for the application of returned assets. These decisions are taken at the Federal Executive Council after in-depth deliberations. The HAGF’s mandate is to implement the decisions of the council.
“I am also directed to inform further that the decision of the council is also guided by bilateral negotiations between Nigeria and the country from which the asset will be returned.
“Accordingly, Nigeria and the government of the United Kingdom or any other country for that matter must agree on a specific project in a transparent and accountable manner before a project is approved.
“However, the HAGF has directed that I inform you that the stumbling block in negotiating the return of assets linked to Ibori to Nigeria is the ongoing litigation by Mr James Ibori against the government of the United Kingdom in the confiscation hearing in London.
“It is advisable that you approach Mr James Ibori to advise him to withdraw his appeals against the confiscation and repatriation of the assets linked to him, his family, and associates back to Nigeria.
“This is the only way to provide an enabling environment for negotiation of the use of the identified assets for Delta State.”
The Federal Government, through Malami, had on March 9, 2021, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK on the return of the Ibori loot.