Senior lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has insisted that Delta State Government owns the right to the billions recovered from its former Governor, James Ibori.
In a statement released by the senior advocate titled, ‘How FG Frustrated Ibori’s Trial in the UK’, he wondered why the Federal Government would claim ownership of the over £4.2m (N2.2bn) being repatriated.
According to him, it is inappropriate to veto Delta State just because the state government once said Ibori never stole, Punch writes.
Driving his point home, the Lagos lawyer stated that Buhari himself had once claimed that former military Head of State, late General Sani Abacha, never looted Nigeria but his administration has recovered and kept funds tied to the late tyrant.
He also noted that the Federal Government through then Attorney-General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa, also challenged the investigation of Ibori in the United Kingdom in 2009.
Falana said, “No doubt, the former Delta State Government was irresponsible to have denied that Chief Ibori looted the treasury of the state at the material time. But such denial cannot be a justification for the confiscation of the Ibori loot of over £100m that is expected to be repatriated to Nigeria by the British Government.
“After all, before his assumption of office as President in May 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari had repeatedly maintained that the late General Sani Abacha did not steal a dime from the account of the Federal Government.
“But the Federal Government, under the President’s watch, has continued to recover the remaining Abacha loot and no one has suggested that such recovered loot be paid to the account of the United Nations or African Union on moral grounds.”
Last week, the attorney-general of the Federation Abubakar Malami (SAN) said the country was expecting a further N500bn from Ibori’s loot.
Malami however maintained that it was not possible to hand over the funds to Delta State.
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