The Oghara Development Union (ODU), Lagos branch, has asked the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to tell Nigerians the truth about the delay in repatriating the proceeds of assets confiscated from the three ladies in the former Governor James Ibori money laundering trials.
The union, in a press statement on Tuesday by its General Secretary, Sunday Agbofodoh, said: “The Attorney-General’s claim of bank documentation is scandalous and far from reality. The Attorney General had said that ‘Documentations with the banks in different countries (caused the delay and often) take longer than anticipated. We anticipated two weeks but we are not in control of the banks.’
“This is laughable. It is also noteworthy that the Minister gave no idea of when the monies would be returned to Nigeria and Delta State. The British authorities are obviously up to some game here.
“We say this because we know for a fact that the monies in question have been in the custody of the British Government since 2010, a clear eleven years plus ago. Also, it is instructive that Nigeria and Britain had long ago signed an MOU on the repatriation of the proceeds. Both parties have continuously celebrated this victory in the Press.
“We know for a fact that our beloved son, Chief James Onanefe Ibori is a victim of political persecution concealed as an anti-corruption fight, and we are happy that Nigerians are now knowing the truth of the wicked lies that deluged, swamped and overwhelmed him. He has served out his prison sentence and since returned to Nigeria and his native Oghara community. We are however concerned that facts are still being twisted for propaganda purposes only to keep the issue in the media in perpetuity.”
The union, which decried the delay tactics on the part of the British Government, said that the people of Oghara wanted a fast resolution of the civil confiscation and repatriation process. “l
“It is incomprehensible that in this day and age, it would take years for banks in two different countries to wire funds from one to the other,” it said
It further said that neither the Attorney-General nor Britain has addressed the question of the shortfall between the real amounts confiscated and what Britain said it would return to Nigeria.
“We are in full knowledge of the actual confiscated amount from the three women and it is £6,838,851.68. Of this amount, £629,417.63 came from the sale of the property belonging to Ibori’s sister, while £2,649,959.45 and £3,559,474.60 came from the other two ladies. The amount is not the £4.2 million as Britain and Malami claimed, and it was fully paid in 2010,” it said.
It expressed surprise at the statement issued by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation that the money had not been returned to Nigeria, and might not be returned anytime soon.
The Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, had in a statement on Monday, signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Umar Gwandu, said that bank documentation delayed the transfer of the £4.2 million.
The ODU tasked Nigerians to find out why Britain wanted to return £4.2m only instead of £6,838,851.68 (£6.8m) and to ask for full disclosure on the sort of bank documentation that would require years to finish.
The union added that Nigerians should ask for the interest that accrued on the money since 2010.
“It is only when such answers are in that it would be clear that the UK Authorities are warehousing proceed of crime for political profit,” ODU added.