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‘US won’t deal with third party in restitution of $500m Abacha loot’

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THE United States has said that it will only deal with Nigeria on a government-to-government basis for the restitution of $500 million Abacha loot, senior presidency sources have said.

Officials of the US Department of Justice (also known as DoJ), according to the sources, told President Muhammadu Buhari pointblank during his visit to the US that they would not deal with any third party in the restitution of the funds, the Cable reported.

Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation, had attempted to engage private lawyers who were going to take a percentage as “legal fees,”  even though they did not play any role in the recovery of the stolen funds traced to the former military head of state, Sani Abacha, who ruled Nigeria from 1993 to 1998.

The recoveries were made in 2014 under President Goodluck Jonathan and domiciled with the US government  and all the lawyers involved had been paid four percent of the funds as their fees.

The funds were to be returned to Nigeria on the condition that the Federal Government would sign an MoU to avoid the mismanagement associated with recoveries under President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In 2016, however, Malami went ahead to appoint two Nigerian lawyers again  in a pattern very similar to the $321 million Abacha loot recovered from Luxembourg also in 2014 for which the lawyers he hurriedly engaged were to be paid almost $17 million for doing nothing.

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