The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, says the Federal Government is in the process of repatriating stolen 300 million pounds from Jersey.
Onyeama stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at a news conference organised as part of activities to mark the one year anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Jersey, an independent, English-speaking territory with a mix of British and French cultures, is the largest of the Channel Islands located between England and France.
The minister said that the money in Jersey would have been repatriated but for a last minute “objection” that was raised by the people, who were supposed to forfeit it.
“We are just in the process of repatriating that in the UK itself. Sometimes very often what happens is that the people, who have ownership or who claim to have ownership (of the money) might bring up a defence. Like if you take the one in Jersey, it is like 300 million pounds or thereabout; now everything has been done to repatriate the money.
It was no longer contested; and then at the last minute, an objection was raised by the people, who were supposed to forfeit those funds. So, of course the authorities in Jersey were obliged – as much as they would have liked to just go ahead and repatriate it – to go through certain legal procedures, because the other party would have a lawyer and there were legal issues. And then we have to now start going through that all over again; so that is really the challenge,” Onyeama said.
According to the minister, the important thing is that the process has been engaged. He said Nigeria would not relent in seeking to repatriate the alleged stolen funds.
He also said that the process of repatriation of looted funds stacked in other countries like Switzerland and U.S. was in progress.
“It is something that takes time – repatriation of stolen funds – because very often, you have to have an idea; you have to work on lead.”
According to him, the repatriation of all other funds is in progress even though the Western countries where the stolen funds have been taken to, are creating barriers that will make it difficult to repatriate the monies.
Onyeama, however, said the Federal Government would consider some mechanisms that would be deployed to make it “a bit easier” for Nigeria to get back the stolen funds.
“That is why the anti-corruption summit and the initiatives of Mr President are really focused on these Western countries to remove some of those barriers, some of those lengthy procedures that are in place, that make it possible for these people to delay and delay and delay.
And that is what we are looking at; they are coming on board now these Western countries, more and more. And so, we just have to look at mechanisms to make it a bit easier when it’s more or less clear, that the stolen funds require us providing all the evidence and it is never easy.
It’s never an easy task,” he added.