Abacha Loot: U.S. resumes process to seize $150 million from Kebbi Governor Abubakar Bagudu
The United States of America has resumed legal proceedings to seize over $150 million allegedly laundered by Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi.
In the joint status report seen by Peoples Gazette, Mr Bagudu, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), failed to reach favourable terms for an out-of-court settlement with U.S. authorities.
“The parties thank the court for having stayed the case to facilitate settlement discussions but report that they have been unable to reach (a) settlement. As such, the parties shall resume litigation per the schedule set forth in the Court’s Order, except as otherwise modified by the court,” court documents from the District of Columbia said.
In 2020, both U.S. authorities and the Bagudu family acquired a stay of the judgment to enable the parties to negotiate a resolution, but with no agreement reached, the case was set to resume on March 4.
“On August 21, 2020, the parties jointly requested that the court stay all proceedings in this litigation so that they might focus their time and resources on pursuing such settlement discussions,” the status report said.
It added, “The court granted the motion, stayed proceedings through November 30, 2020, and ordered the parties to file a joint status report one week prior. The court has since granted five further extensions of the stay. The current stay expires on March 4, 2022.”
The U.S. claims that Mr Bagudu was part of a syndicate controlled by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and had misappropriated billions of dollars from state coffers in the 1990s.
In 2019, the Nigerian government said it could not assist the U.S. in the case, claiming it is bound by a settlement reached by Mr Bagudu and a previous Nigerian government in 2003.
Mr Bagudu’s deal with the federal government reportedly allowed him to return $163 million to the Nigerian authorities in exchange for all outstanding civil and criminal claims against him dropped.
In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime reached a new agreement with Mr Bagudu. This involved transferring the ownership of the investment portfolios worth $154 million to the Nigerian state, which in turn would pay $108 million to Mr Bagudu and his affiliates, according to U.S. court documents.
The U.S. Department of Justice in February 2020 said it requested Mr Buhari’s regime to withdraw the litigation it had commenced in the UK that was hindering its efforts to forfeit laundered funds held in Bagudu’s name.
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