Late President Sani Abacha

Abacha Loot: Reps investigate proposed payment of $17 million to lawyers

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Late President Sani Abacha

The House of Representatives on Thursday resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the payment of $16.9 million to lawyers by the Attorney-General of the Federation for the recovery of ‘Abacha loot’.

The committee is also to investigate the controversy surrounding the engagement of Nigerian lawyers for a fee of N6 billion after the actual work had been concluded by another set of lawyers.

The Cable reported that the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, refused to approve the payment of $16.9 million fees to two lawyers for the recovery of the loot worth $321 million.

It said Mrs Adeosun also wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, raising objections to the payment.

But the minister has denied being involved in any controversy over the issue.

Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer hired by the Federal Government since 1999 to work on recovering Abacha loot, had finished the Luxembourg leg of the job since 2014 when Mohammed Bello Adoke was Attorney-General of the Federation.

Mr Monfrini had also been paid his fees by the Federal Government.

The recovered money was then domiciled with the Attorney-General of Switzerland, pending the signing of an MoU with Nigeria to avoid the issues of accountability around previous recoveries.

All that was left after the signing of the MoU was a government-to-government communication for the money to be repatriated to Nigeria.

But Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, engaged the services of another set of lawyers in 2016 for a fee of about N6 billion.

The lawyers are Oladipo Okpeseyi and Temitope Adebayo who both worked for President Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a legacy party of the All Progressive Congress (APC) when Mr Malami was the legal adviser of CPC

In the unanimously adopted motion moved by Mark Gbilah (Benue-APC), the House called on President Buhari to suspend the payment of the said fee of $16.9 million or any part thereof pending investigation on the matter.

The committee is expected to conclude the investigation within six weeks.

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