Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has refused to approve the payment of $16.9 million fees to two lawyers for the recovery of Abacha loot worth $321 million. Adeosun also wrote a strongly-worded letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, raising objections to the payment.
TheCable had reported that 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. 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. However, Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, had engaged the services of another set of lawyers in 2016 for a fee of about N6 billion.
The Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation, CNJF, a partner organisation to TheCable, then sent a Freedom of Information, FOI, request to Malami for a copy of the agreements reached with Monfrini for the recovery. TheCable understands that the terms in the agreement were clearly spelt out, such that no other lawyer would be needed for the return of the money to Nigeria. Malami refused to accede to the FOI request, but the Cable Foundation is currently in court to seek an order of mandamus to compel the attorney-general to make the documents public.