United States authorities said it will resume legal proceedings to seize over $150 million allegedly laundered by Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, Bagudu, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), made a failed attempt for an out-of-court settlement with US authorities.
The U.S. alleges that the Governor Bagudu was part of a network controlled by former Nigerian military Head of State, Sani Abacha, that misappropriated billions of dollars from State coffers in the 1990s.
Bagudu’s brother, Ibrahim, who is entitled to an annuity from the assets, is challenging the forfeiture in a federal court in Washington, USA.
US authorities and the Bagudu family obtained a stay of the judgment in 2020, to enable the parties to negotiate a resolution; but with no agreement reached, the case is set to resume, according to court documents dated March, 2.
A UK court had frozen the family’s investment portfolios in 2014 following a request from the U.S.
The Federal Government, in 2019, said it is unable to assist the US in the case. It claimed it is bound by a settlement Bagudu reached with a previous administration in 2003.
Bagudu’s agreement with the Federal Government reportedly allowed him to return $163 million to the Nigerian authorities, which in exchange dropped all outstanding civil and criminal claims against him, according to court filings.
In 2018, the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari and Gov. Bagudu had a new agreement in 2018 for the ownership of the investment portfolios worth 141 million Euros ($154 million) in late 2019 transferred to the Nigerian state, which would then pay 98.5 million Euros to Bagudu and his affiliates, according to U.S. court documents.
Buhari’s administration has reportedly since applied to the U.K. court to unfreeze the assets.
Tge US Department of Justice, (DoJ), in February 2020 said it requested the Nigerian government to withdraw litigation it had commenced in the U.K. whixh was hindering its efforts to forfeit laundered funds held in Bagudu’s name. US authorities in return opposed plans by the Nigerian government to give $100 million from loots recovered from Abacha to Bagudu.
The DoJ said Bagudu was involved in corruption with the Late Abacha, who Transparency International (TI) said may have looted as much as $5 billion during his 1993-98 rule in Nigeria.
It accused the Nigerian government of hindering U.S. efforts to recover allegedly laundered money it said was traced to Bagudu.