The Minister of Justice, who doubles as the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has explained why the return of the £4.2 million allegedly looted by a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, is being delayed.
Representing the Federal Government at a ceremony on March 9, Malami signed an agreement with Catriona Laing, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, on the repatriation of the funds.
It was announced at the ceremony that the meeting that the funds would be repatriated within two weeks.
In a statement on Monday, Dr Umar Gwandu, spokesman of the AGF, said issues relating to documentation of funds transfers took more time than expected due to some documentation.
Gwandu explained that the federal government is working tirelessly to ensure the return of looted Nigerian assets kept outside the country.
“Documentations with the banks in different countries often take longer than anticipated. We anticipated two weeks but we are not in control of the banks.
“There is neither complacency nor any delay as efforts are being made to ensure successful transfer of the looted funds.”
The government had announced the use of the funds for the completion of ongoing work on 2nd Niger Bridge, Abuja to Kano and Lagos Ibadan expressways, which were already being funded by the recovered $311m Abacha Loot III, adding that it will be monitored by a reputable civil society organization under the management of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.
But the announcement stirred controversy as the Delta State Government, prominent lawyers and CSOs demanded that the funds be returned to Delta.