Abacha Loot: Why FG Withdrew Charges Against Mohammed – Adoke
SAN FRANCISCO, June 26, (THEWILL) - The Federal Government Thursday justified its decision to withdraw the money laundering charges filed against Mohammed Abacha , son of the late military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, over the multimillion dollar fraud allegedly perpetrated under the regime of his father.
Providing the justification was the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mohammed Adoke ( SAN), who disclosed thatâ€Ž the charges were withdrawn because the Abacha family had not only undertaken not to contest the proceedings, but had also agreed to cooperate fully with the Federal Government in the recovery proceedings.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the minister. Mr. Ambrose Momoh, said that the insinuation that the Federal Government withdrew the charges against Mohammed to enable him go scot free was false, stressing that a key objective in the prosecution of corruption cases was the deprivation of the criminal offender of the proceeds of crime.
“This is achieved by the taking away of such proceeds of crime by the State (regurgitation and restitution). This principal objective has been achieved to a very significant degree in the Abacha proceedings,” the statement said.
It maintained that while the yearnings for criminal sanctions in form of custodial sentences against the Abacha family was understandable, it should be appreciated that this was a case that had lingered for over 16 years.
According to the statement, the Abacha's case was not a straightforward case where conviction was assured.
“The standard of proof in criminal cases of this nature, which is 'proof beyond reasonable doubt' poses great difficulty for the prosecution as any shadow of doubt is resolved in favour of the accused person.
“This much was appreciated by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, when it entered into a Global Settlement Agreement with the Abacha family.
“What the administration of President Jonathan, has done is to ensure that government gets the best deal it can get, in the circumstance.
“To this end, this administration has worked closely and consulted widely with experts, international partners including global development agencies on these criminal proceedings and it is clear from the feedback received, that there is no doubt that the Jonathan administration has, within the constraints imposed by this case, done its best to protect the interest of the country,” the statement explained further.
Condemning the criticism by Transparency International (TI) , saying it had little bearing on the facts, the statement said that the singling out of Nigeria for criticism by TI for adopting measures, which were globally used in cases of this nature and which have produced good results for the country was totally unfortunate and unfair.
The statement assured Nigerians that the Federal Government was being guided by national Interest, the need to promote transparency and accountability and international best practices in its dealings with the Abacha family and indeed, all such recovery proceedings.
Adoke further disclosed that the Federal Government was currently pursuing recovery proceedings against the Abacha family and its associates in Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, and the United Kingdom.
He said government had also made a request for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal matters to the United States of America in respect of the stolen assets within that jurisdiction.
“Government is also working assiduously with the Department of Justice of the United States in respect of the forfeiture proceedings it commenced against the Abacha family and its associates.
“The proceedings will make it possible for the Abacha family and its associates to forfeit over $550million and £95,910 Pounds sterling in 10 accounts and six investment portfolios linked to the Abachas in France, Britain, British Virgin Islands and the United States,' he said.
He disclosed that the criminal proceedings against the Abacha family and their associates have forced them to back down from contesting the cases filed by the Federal Government to recover stolen assets in Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
He maintained that the Abacha family has also withdrawn their appeal before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg , seeking to set aside the forfeiture orders made against them and their associates in Liechtenstein.
“The aforementioned steps have led to the recovery of 226.3 million US Dollars from Liechtenstein in addition to the 7.5 Million Euros that was recovered from an associated company of the Abachas' in Liechtenstein in 2011.
'It will also be recalled that in 2011, the Federal Government was able to recover and repatriate through negotiated settlement with the Jersey, the sum of 22.5 million pounds confiscated from an associate of the Abacha family by the Island of Jersey,” the statement added.