The United States and the federal government have signed an agreement to repatriate $954,000 allegedly stolen by Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governor of Bayelsa state.
The agreement was signed on Thursday in Abuja by Mary Leonard, US ambassador to Nigeria, and Beatrice Jedy-Agba, solicitor-general of the federation and permanent secretary of the ministry of justice.
The solicitor-general said the funds have been approved for the construction of a healthcare centre for the residents of Bayelsa state.
“This asset return arose from the forfeiture and recovery of approximately $1 million USD linked to the corrupt practices of former Bayelsa state governor, D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha,” she said.
“The United States government, in collaboration with the Federal Republic of Nigeria initiated and completed forfeiture proceedings against certain real property and investment funds located in Maryland and Massachusetts against the former governor which resulted in the net forfeiture to the Government of United States of America totalling the sum of $954,807.40.
“Following the court order, the FRN and the USA have negotiated and finalized the terms of the asset return agreement.
“It is worthy to note that in line with the terms of this agreement, Mr President has already approved the expected sum to be utilised for the implementation of a health centre project for the benefit of the people of Bayelsa state and to be monitored by the civil society organisations and the federal government, through the federal ministry of justice.”
The US ambassador said it was impossible for the former governor to have legitimately possessed the funds since his salary while he was governor between 1999 and 2005 “did not exceed the equivalent of about $81,000 per year”.
“However, during that time, he accumulated millions of dollars worth of property through corrupt acts such as abuse of office, money laundering, and other violations of Nigerian and US laws,” the US ambassador added.
“The United States court case against DSP through the kleptocracy asset recovery initiative is part of our efforts to combat money laundering and corruption.
“Prosecutors working under this initiative are responsible for investigations and litigation to recover the proceeds of foreign official corruption.
“The funds are returned in accordance with our obligations under the UN Convention against corruption and to further the tenets of transparency and accountability set forth in the global forum on asset recovery principles for disposition and transfer of confiscated stolen assets and corruption.”