06 February 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – A human rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has asked President Donald Trump of the United States to return over $500million looted funds to Nigeria.
It said the monies are proceeds of corruption traced to former Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha.
It explained the proceeds are separate from the $480 million of Abacha-origin funds that have been forfeited to the US under an August 2014 US federal district court order.
SERAP made the request on Sunday in an open letter to President Donald Trump by the organization’s US Volunteer Counsel Professor Alexander W. Sierck and executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.
A copy of the letter was sent to the US ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The letter read partly, “SERAP urges your new Administration to initiate discussions with the Nigerian government to fulfill these objectives within an agreed framework and timeline.
“Simultaneously, the Administration should instruct the Justice Department to initiate civil asset forfeiture proceedings in regard to the above-referenced $500 million in assets described above.”
It added that, “Any bilateral discussions between the US and Nigeria concerning these assets should include clear acknowledgement of the significant role that civil society plays in asset recovery matters.
“To that end, the respective governments ought to commit to promptly sharing information with relevant civil society organizations on stolen assets of Nigerian origin located in the US or otherwise subject to US jurisdiction. This proposed commitment is similar to one between the US and Kenya as well as consistent with Articles 46(4) and 56 of the UN Convention Against Corruption.
“In SERAP’s judgment, some or all of these requirements have been met with respect to the $500 million in proceeds described above. A resolution adopted by the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption in Panama in November 2013 reaffirms this obligation, by requiring state to make “every effort” to return such proceeds. to the victim state.
“Nigeria’s Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption has recently informed SERAP that the US Government has identified another $500 million or so proceeds of Nigerian corruption subject to US jurisdiction.”