Jersey’s Royal Court has ruled in favour of returning stolen assets valued at $8.9 million to Nigeria.
The decision comes after Jersey’s Attorney General issued a forfeiture notice in November, asserting that the funds, deposited in a Jersey bank account, were likely misappropriated by Nigerian government officials in 2014.
The illicit transfer of funds was reportedly disguised as government-sanctioned contracts for arms purchases during Boko Haram incursions in Nigeria between 2009 and 2015.
The Jersey court found that most of the funds, initially intended for legitimate arms deals, had been diverted through foreign bank accounts and shell companies linked to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Nigeria.
Jersey’s Attorney General, Mark Temple KC, noted the collaboration between Jersey and the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the recovery process.
Temple stressed the effectiveness of the 2018 Forfeiture Law in combating corruption and restoring funds to victims of crime. Plans are underway to negotiate an asset return agreement with the Nigerian government.
He said: “This case again demonstrates the effectiveness of the 2018 Forfeiture Law in recovering the proceeds of corruption and restoring that money to victims of crime.
“I now intend to negotiate an asset return agreement with the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Recall that during Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, a lot of controversy had surrounded the purchase of weapons in the fight against insurgency with the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, being accused of diverting funds meant for security equipment.
Also in late 2014, a private jet belonging to the-then President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, was arrested in South Africa with $10m cash, which was allegedly meant for the purchase of military weapons.