Stolen Funds: Diezani, Ibori, Dariye, 57 other Nigerians may lose UK assets
Fresh facts emerged yesterday that more than 60 top Nigerians may lose assets and cash laundered in the United Kingdom. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) may soon submit a list of those convicted, under probe, the fleeing suspects and those watch-listed to the relevant agencies in the UK.
According to The Nation, The UK was said to be in custody of over £40 million stolen funds recovered from some Nigerian government officials in 2008.
This is apart from about £22.5million recovered from the Island of Jersey.
Of the cash, about £6.8million loot had been traced to ex-Governor James Ibori.
Some of those likely to be affected include ex-governors like James Ibori, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Joshua Dariye, the late Abubakar Audu, Chimaroke Nnamani, Lucky Igbinedion, the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and others.
Others are about 13 ex-governors on trial for financial crimes, some former ministers either on trial or under investigation, some indicted top bankers during the 2008 financial crisis.
Six of the ex-governors were alleged to have acquired assets worth £15million in the United Kingdom, while in office.
One of the governors allegedly paid £1.6million at a go in 2005 for a posh mansion in London.
According to findings, about 60 highly-placed Nigerians, especially politically exposed persons and their fronts, have assets and looted funds in the United Kingdom and Island of Jersey.
For instance, Ibori’s assets in the UK are said to worth more than $150 million. A former director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) owns a flat in St George Wharf worth about 450 pounds more than 10 years ago, while another top civil servant owns 1.65 million pounds Fulham property.
It was learnt that the decision of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to collaborate with the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has dimmed the hope of the affected treasury looters.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “With the pledge of the British Prime Minister, we will just go to our shelf and reel out the list of those with suspected loot and laundered funds in the United Kingdom.
“Already, we have the dossiers of all these suspects right from the days of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as the EFCC chairman.
“We can talk of about 60 on our radar, including about 13 governors, former ministers, oil subsidy suspects, indicted top bankers and some of those involved in the $15billion arms deals.
“We will recover all the stolen funds. In fact, very soon, we may start publishing the photographs of the identified assets of some of these suspects.
“In fact, the Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, met with the Special Fraud Office in London on Thursday.
“We can seize these assets under the Interim Forfeiture Order in Sections 26 and 29 of the EFCC Act.
The section reads: “Any property subject to forfeiture under this Act may be seized by the commission in the following circumstances- (a) the seizure is incidental to an arrest or search; or (b) in the case of property liable to forfeiture upon process issued by the Court following an application made by the Commission in accordance with the prescribed rules.
“Whenever property is seized under any of the provisions of this Act, the Commission may-(a) place the property under seal; or (b) remove the property to a place designated by the Commission.
“Properties taken or detained under this section shall be deemed to be in custody of the Commission, subject only to an order of a Court.”
The EFCC and the Metropolitan Police have been collaborating in the past few years.
The British government had, in 2008, expressed its willingness to return about £40 million stolen funds recovered from some Nigerian government officials.
A former Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, James Tansley, on September 27, 2007 handed over two cheques for more than $250,000 (£126,000, 29.3m naira) to Nigeria.
The UK Metropolitan Police had said the amount was only a fraction of the fortunes that the former Governor of Plateau State, Chief Joshua Dariye, and other Nigerian officials had diverted to London.
A cheque for $2 million belonging to a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, was also returned to Nigeria by the British government.
President Muhammadu Buhari had during the week pleaded with the UK to return stolen funds to Nigeria.
“I am not going to demand any apology from anybody. What I am demanding is the return of assets,” Buhari said at a function in London.