By Ebere Agozie
Ms Catriona Laing, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, says ill–gotten money is not welcome in the UK.
Laing, made this known on Tuesday, during the signing ceremony of an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UK and Nigeria for the return of former Gov. James Ibori’s confiscated assets from the UK at the Ministry of Justice.
She said the MoU will see the return of over 4.2million pounds recovered from the associates and family of Ibori to the Nigerian government.
“The return of these assets to Nigeria has been subject to a number of hard fought legal challenges by third parties which were defeated in the UK courts.
” We will ensure the full weight of law enforcement to crack down those who use, move or hide their proceed of crime in the UK”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that in February 2012, Ibori pleaded guilty in a UK court to money laundering, conspiracy to defraud and forgery and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Some of his associates and family members also received sentences for similar offences.
The Commissioner said that transparent asset recovery is priority for both UK and Nigeria governments.
“It is vital that this agreement makes strong provision for transparency, monitoring and accountability.
” It is a guiding principle of both UK and Nigerian governments that stolen assets should be used for projects that benefit Nigeria’s poor”, she said.
Also speaking, Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said the federal government is committed to ensuing the transparent management of all recovered assets.
“The assets returned will support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria.
” The projects are the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Abuja – Kano road and the second Niger Bridge that are being executed under the supervision of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.
“The project will boost economic growth and help alleviate poverty by connecting people and supply chains from the East to the West and to the Northern part of Nigeria”.
Also speaking, Mr Dayo Apata, SAN, the Solicitor-General of the Federation, while welcoming the guests said the ministry has fully assumed its leadership role in its constitutional duty in the administration of Justice in Nigeria.
” It has led to the formulation of National Strategies/Action Plan for combating corruption.
“Vigorous pursuing repatriation of recovered looted funds/assets in the face of daunting challenges.
” Drafting of Bills to stifle corrupt practices and to bring about and efficient and beneficial management of the proceeds of crime amongst others.