By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Abuja—The Attorney charges against the son of the late Head of State, Mohammed Abacha, was done in the best interest of the nation and not to shield him from prosecution.
Adoke insisted that before freeing Abacha, the Jonathan administration had consulted widely with experts, international development agencies and partners before coming to the conclusion that it was in the best interest of the country to withdraw the charges against him.
Adoke, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Ambrose Momoh, explained that the withdrawal of the criminal proceedings against Mohammed Abacha would facilitate the recovery of $380 million from the Luxembourg proceedings and another $550 million from forfeiture proceedings instituted by the US Department of Justice.
According to Adoke, the Abacha family has not only undertaken not to contest the proceedings, but to also cooperate fully with the Federal Government in the recovery proceedings.
The Attorney General pointed out that although the key objective in the prosecution of corruption cases is the deprivation of the criminal offender of the proceeds of crime, Nigeria had already achieved that by taking away the proceeds of crime from the Abacha family.
He said: “This principal objective has been achieved to a very significant degree in the Abacha proceedings. While the yearning for criminal sanctions in form of custodial sentences against the Abacha family is understandable, it should be appreciated that this is a case that has lingered for over 16 years.
“It is, therefore, important to understand that this is not a straightforward case where conviction is assured.
“The standard of proof in criminal cases of this nature, which is ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt,’ poses great difficulty for the prosecution as any shadow of doubt is resolved in favour of the accused person.
‘FG wants best deal’
“This much was appreciated by the administration of former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, when it entered into a Global Settlement Agreement with the Abacha family.
“What the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has done is to ensure that government gets the best deal it can in the circumstance. To this end, this administration has consulted widely.
“The Ministry of Justice, therefore, wishes to assure the public that it will at all times be guided by national interest, the need to promote transparency, accountability and international best practices in the Ministry’s dealings with the Abacha family and indeed, all such recovery proceedings.”
The minister explained that the Federal Government was currently pursuing recovery proceedings against the Abacha family and its associates in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom.
He said government had also made a request for Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters to the United States of America in respect of the stolen assets within that jurisdiction.
Adoke said government was also working assiduously with the Department of Justice of the United States in respect of the forfeiture proceedings it commenced against the Abacha family and its associates.
According to him, the proceedings will make it possible for the Abacha family and its associates to forfeit over $550 million and £95,910 million in 10 accounts and six investment portfolios linked to the Abachas in France, Britain, British Virgin Islands and the United States.
The minister boasted that the various steps taken by the government had led to the recovery of $226.3 million from Liechtenstein in addition to the $7.5 million that was recovered from an associated company of the Abachas’ in Liechtenstein in 2011.