By Olalekan Awojodu
The British Government and her Nigerian counterpart on Tuesday signed a memorandum on bringing corruption to justice, the first move of which was to return £4.2 million seized from former Delta State governor James Ibori back to Nigeria.
The British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Ms. Catriona Laing reiterated both the United Kingdom and Nigeria government resolved to bring the corrupt to justice.
She stated that assets recovery remained a priority for both the UK and Nigerian government, hoping that the signed agreement makes strong provision for transparency, monitoring and accountability.
Laing gave the assurance in Abuja at the signing of the Annex to the Memorandum of Understanding for the Return of Ibori’s Confiscated Assets from the United Kingdom.
While Laing signed on behalf of the United Kingdom, AGF Abubakar Malami signed on behalf of the Nigerian government.
It would be recall that before he was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment, James Ibori, the former Governor of Delta State and his associates in February 2012 pleaded guilty to money laundering, conspiracy to defraud and forgery in a UK court.
At the occasion, the High Commissioner restated that the Landmark agreement represented the first return of stolen assets confiscated by the United Kingdom under the auspices of the UK-Nigeria Memorandum of Understanding signed in August 2016.
She said, “Transparent asset recovery is a priority for both UK and Nigeria and, we are determined to lead the way in a co-ordinated global efforts to bring corruption to justice and send a clear message to the world.
“I believe that this agreement demonstrates example of success of close collaborations and the UK’s commitment to recovering and returning corruptly-obtained assets,” Laing stated further.
In his own remarks, the AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN described the ceremony as a bold statement in the anti-corruption drive of the President Buhari’s administration.
While stating further, he said, ” This administration will not allow looters to enjoy their loots but will ensure that justice is served accordingly”
According to Malami, such actions will enhance the enforcement of all anti-corruption legal instruments and protocols.
Malami thereafter pledged the country’s readiness to cooperate with international communities to facilitate future recoveries.