Tuesday, April 23, 2024

$320m Abacha loot: EFCC faults US Senator

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Firday faulted claims by the US Senate’s Chairman, Committee on Finance, Charles E. Grassley, that Nigeria will not be able to manage the   $320million to be repatriated to it.

The cash was recovered from the slush accounts linked with a former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, his family and associates.

Also, the EFCC said it was wrong of the Senator to accuse the agency of only arresting and prosecuting those in opposition.

It explained that some former governors, who are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), have been jailed after diligent prosecution by EFCC.

The EFCC made the clarifications in a statement by its Acting Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Tony Orilade.

The EFCC said it was wrong of Sen. Grassley to accuse the Acting Chairman of the commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, of leading an enforcement agency against the opposition in the country.

In an April 1, 2020 letter to the Chief Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the US Department of Justice, Deborah Connor, the 86-year old Republican Senator  rejected  plans to return seized Abacha loot to Nigeria.

He also accused Magu of “detaining individuals who have spoken against the Buhari government”.

He said: “Nigeria’s corrupt history, its plan to return stolen money to an official involved in the original corruption, and its refusal to assist the U.S. with an Abacha forfeiture action raise serious questions about how the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) is handling these matters.

“Particularly, it seems odd that the DOJ would help facilitate the payment of $320 million to the Nigerian government without first insisting on proper safeguards to prevent the further misuse of funds, as well as full cooperation in other forfeiture actions related to the Abacha loot.

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“There are also serious human rights concerns. Under President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, Nigerians face violations undermintics of some unscrupulous elements in the country, who never succeeded in  blackmailing the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Even the harshest detractors of Mr. Magu know and always acknowledge his firm and bold handling of the anti- corruption fight which continues to earn him accolades within and outside Nigeria.”

The EFCC said the Senator’s allegations contradicted the position of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which gave an Award of Excellence to  Magu.

It added:” Only recently, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) gave an Award of Excellence to Mr. Magu for his unique role in a joint field operation codenamed, “Operation Rewired”.  The operation yielded great results internationally in tackling the menace of cyber-crime.

“It is worrisome that a high-ranking US lawmaker of the status of Grassley could not get his facts rightly nor establish a credible premise of attacking an FBI- celebrated Magu.  Would the FBI have come out to acknowledge the effectiveness and credibility of the EFCC under Magu’s watch, if such allegation of oppressing opposition to President Buhari’s government had any merit?”

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