Victorious Verdict on Repatriation of Abacha’s Loot

5 Min Read
Late Sani Abacha

It is a common knowledge that the unflinching determination of the Federal Government to recover the nation’s looted wealth has gathered momentum.

Nigerians are not unaware that recently the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) on the recovery of stolen funds with countries where Nigeria’s funds have been illegally kept.

Achievement of such a remarkable objective is never a day dream. Neither is it a bed of roses nor something achievable at the platter of gold.

The fight against corruption and corrupt practices in the corrupt-ridden country is tantamount to confronting a lion in its den which requires concerted efforts akin to taking the bull by its horn.

Uncountable factors such as individuals with ulterior motives would be jostling to serve as impediments or cog in the wheel of successful repatriation of the looted funds and other practices inimical to the proper utilization of the funds in the interest of the common man.

Imagine asking a court to grant the sum of $320m out of $550m looted funds as a charging lien.

A US-based Nigerian Lawyer, Godson Nnaka, who was disbarred from practice by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, USA in August 2012 filed a suit against the Federal Government of Nigeria that he should be paid such hefty amount on Abacha’s loot for a work that he has never done.

In its order on 16th September, 2016 the United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge John D. Bates states, “Godson Nnaka thinks that the Federal Government of Nigeria owes him – about $320 million, for legal service rendered under a contingency-fee agreement that he entered with the Nigerian Government in 2004.

As the Court explains to Nnaka a number of times, this is not the proper forum to adjudicate that dispute. Like Nnaka’s numerous earlier attempts to secure his attorney’s fees through this asset forfeiture case brought by the United States, [117] Nnaka’s motion for a charging lien will be denied”.

According to the order “Even the most basic prerequisites for charging lien are missing here. Nnaka has not won a judgment for Nigeria; indeed he has not successfully entered an appearance on its behalf. A charging lien in the amount of $320m, therefore, is not called for.

Nnaka claims against Nigeria must be pursued in 16-cv-1400, a case that he has filed specifically for that purpose. Unless and until Nnaka’s claim to the dependent assets is reinstated by the DC Circuit, Nnaka’s participation in the case must now come to an end”.

On May 26, 2014 United States District Court for the District of Columbia received a letter from the then Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke, stating that Jude Chukwuma Ezeala, Kenneth A. Nnaka, Godson Nnaka, and Charles Lion Agwumezie “are not authorized to represent Nigeria” in this action “or in any other efforts to recover the proceeds of Nigerian corruption in the United States of America.”

Several efforts by Nnaka’s to ask the court not consider the letter were denied.

No wonder Judge Robert N. Dugan says in a judgment following a hearing before the Circuit Court for Baltimore County states that “Our precedent is clear that disbarment is the appropriate sanction for Nnaka, considering the full extent of his misconduct. He was unresponsive to his clients, changed offices without telling them, failed to keep them informed about their matters, and instructed them to lie to the court about the nature of his representation.

He has proven himself unfit to practice law and shall be disbarred”. With this judgment, Nigeria gets rid of frantic efforts by individuals intruding to maximize any opportunity in amassing nation’s wealth at the expense of the national goals.

Umar Jibrilu Gwandu
A lecturer of Mass Communication
Bayero University, Kano

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