Trump’s visit to Nigeria on hold till after election
FG pays N135m compensation over human rights violation
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
WASHINGTON—PRESIDENT Donald Trump of the United States of America and President Muhammadu Buhari have directed their Attorneys-General to draw up a road map for repatriation of Nigeria’s stolen $500 million.
The two Presidents had on Monday, reached an agreement on repatriation of the stolen money stashed away in the United States by some Nigerians.
This is even as Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffery Onyeama, disclosed yesterday that President Trump would not visit Nigeria until after the 2019 general elections.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who stated this Monday, said: “Three key remarks from President Trump have, indeed, consolidated on the general overview of what transpired between the two Presidents.
“President Trump acknowledged that President Buhari is a real leader, acknowledged the fact that he has much respect for him and further consolidated the position by a clear remark that he has, indeed, succeeded in cutting down corruption.
“That brings us to the US government’s commitment towards assets recovery and arising from those remarks, there was a clear political goodwill and commitment that has now been given by the respective governments in terms of working together towards the repatriation of looted funds and assets.
“To that extent, there has been clear directives for both attorney generals to meet and have a road map for the repatriation of the assets. That meeting is now slated for 3 pm (8pm Nigeria time) to work on the repatriation of over $500 million which is ready for repatriation subject to clearing the bureaucratic bottles.
“Another subject has to do with the Human rights record of the Nigerian government. President Buhari has stated that this is the first time that Nigeria is paying compensation for victims of human rights violation.
“Recall the Apo six incident which happened in 2013 where security agents were said to have committed human rights violations by the unjustified killings of six people.
“In April this year, the Federal Government has indeed paid N135 million to the victims of the human rights violation. That has further been consolidated by the fact that two of the police officers that were involved in the perpetration of the murder of the Apo six were sentenced to death through judicial process.
“The payment was recommended by Human Rights Commission. So it is a clear demonstration of the respect for the Human Right Commission and its decision, for respect for human rights against the background that for the first time the Federal Government is paying compensation and that also those that perpetrated the unwholesome act were indeed sentenced by a judicial process.
“The beneficiaries are eight and not six. The Apo six was press coinage arising from the immediate casualties at the time of the incident but then the number increased to eight.
“On the part of assets recovery, we have succeeded in having a very positive progress. On whether the $500 million is the first tranche or there is possibility of more trailing, one thing I can tell you is that investigation is ongoing and the numbers keep changing with time but as far as the immediate negotiations with US is concerned, it’s a figure between $500 million and above. That is what is on the table immediately for discussions.”
On whether there was a fixed time for the asset repatriation, the AGF said: “I can’t state categorically what we are looking at in timeline sense but the truth is we are looking at the shortest practicable time.”
“The fact that there is political commitment by the two Presidents is a clear demonstration of the fact that the possibility of having the money repatriated within the shortest possible time cannot be ruled out.”
On Trump’s proposed visit to Nigeria, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, said Trump may not visit Nigeria until the end of elections next year.
He said: “Regarding the invitation, well if the programmes of the two Presidents are very very intensive, it usually takes anything up to a year to prepare for invitation at that kind of level before they actually take place.
“Of course, in Nigeria you know we have elections coming up and a very very busy schedule as that of President Trump. Maybe sometime next year, we could envisage something like that.”