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Reps Wade into $458m Looted Funds Forfeited in US

By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye

The House of Representatives on Thursday resolved to collaborate with the Federal Government to ensure the repatriation of the country’s looted funds that had been forfeited to the U.S. Government.
The house also resolved to interface with office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to meet US Congress men and women to push for the return of the funds, put at about 458 million dollars.
The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion under Matters of Urgent Public Importance sponsored by Rep. Johnson Agbonayinma (PDP-Edo).
The funds which were deposited in facilities in the US by some corrupt Nigerians who had held public offices, were after discovery by the the US Government, forfeited to the state as prescribed by law.
The forfeiture was especially accelerated because none of the depositors showed up to lay claim to the funds.
But, President Muhammadu Buhari had since assuming office, been engaged in diplomatic overtures to the US Government for the repatriation of the funds.
Leading the debate on the motion, Agbonayinma recalled that in 2013 the US Department of Justice traced some assets that were later discovered to be proceeds from corruption in Nigeria.
“It is noteworthy to say that the US Department of Justice has confiscated and returned over 168 million dollars to victim-nations of corruption,’’ he said.
He disclosed that a portion of the looted funds belonging to Nigeria was forfeited to the US via a judgment of the district court.
“Assets recovery is a fundamental principle of United Nations Convention against corruption where high-level corruption has plundered the national wealth and where resources are badly needed for reconstruction and rehabilitation of societies.
“Whereas in the case of embezzlement of public funds, one of the manners in which the confiscated assets could be disposed of is as compensation to the victims affected by the underlying crime,’’ Agbonayinma explained.
In her contribution, Rep. Beni Lar (PDP-Plateau) described the allegation as serious, and called for proper investigation as part of efforts to repatriate the money.
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