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£4.2m Ibori loot: Funds not returned to Delta – Accountant-general backtracks on statement

“The money is still being awaited, after which the issues around it will be resolved before further action is taken”

The accountant-general of the federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, has invalidated his earlier claim that the recovered £4.2 million Ibori loot has been returned to Delta state.

A special assistant on media and public relations to Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, Umar Gwandu, had on May 18, said the amount was credited into the designated federal government account with naira equivalent value as of May 10.

Speaking before the Federal House of Representatives ad hoc committee on “assessment and status of all recovered loots movable and immovable assets from 2002-2020 by agencies of the federal government of Nigeria for effective efficient management and utilisation” on Tuesday, the accountant-general said the funds have been returned to Delta state to avoid litigation against the federal government.

However, in a statement on Wednesday issued by Henshaw Ogubike, spokesperson to the accountant-general, Idris said the issue surrounding the loot had “not been properly resolved”.

“The money is still being awaited, after which the issues around it will be resolved before further action is taken,” he said.

“For now, no money has been returned to Delta state. This is the true position as regards the £4.2m Ibori loot. The issue of the £4.2m Ibori loot has not been properly resolved.

“The office of the accountant-general of the federation (OAGF) wishes to put the records straight regarding the widely circulated media report on the £4.2m Ibori loot.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Lauretta Onochie, media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, via her Facebook page, had said returning the funds to the Delta state government would be breaching the terms and conditions on which the funds were repatriated.

“Now, let me remind us. The attorney-general of the federation, Abubakar Mallami, the British high commissioner, Catriona Laing, and other relevant agencies held a press conference openly telling the world when the money would be returned, and the specific projects the money was approved for openly,” she wrote.

“When it was delayed, the attorney-general informed Nigerians of the reason for the delay. When the loot arrived, Nigerians were informed too. The conditions under which the funds were repatriated, still stand. Again, no penny was paid to the Delta state government. If we break the conditions for getting this chicken amount, how do we get the elephant amount that is still coming?

“The British high commissioner is also keeping an open eye on those projects. I know what we all heard. But we also know the facts. Pres. Muhammadu Buhari runs an open government. The attorney-general is part of the open policy. Nothing hidden. Nigerians would be the first to know if he decides to break an agreement made with Britain. I very much doubt it. He’s an Honourable man.”

Meanwhile, the Delta State government has also confirmed that the state is yet to receive the repatriated funds.

Olisa Ifeajika, chief press secretary to Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta, who made this known said, “Delta government is in contact with the federal government, especially the office of the attorney-general of the federation, on the issue.”

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