In his recently released memoir, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), former Attorney General of the Federation, accused the current governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, as one of those who laundered funds looted by former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
Backdrop: Adoke maintains, in his book Burden of Service, that huge cash was stashed in accounts in Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, the UK, Channel Island of Jersey, France and Switzerland by Abacha’s children, one of his brothers, Atiku Bagudu and others.
- “Gen. Abacha, who ruled Nigeria from 1993 to 1999, laundered billions of dollars, mostly through European banks, with the aid of his children, a younger brother, and Senator Atiku Bagudu, the current Governor of Kebbi State. These were his fronts.”
Bagudu’s messy history
Here are some interesting details on how Governor Bagudu and his associates robbed Nigeria. Recall, that Bagudu was arrested in the United States in 2003 but entered an agreement with the Nigerian government to return $160m lodged in Jersey Island in exchange for deportation to Nigeria.
- A US District court in Columbia 2015 determined the following allegations about Bagudu’s fraudulent past as true: “Mohammed Abacha, Bagudu, and others defrauded Nigeria of more than $282 million by causing the government of Nigeria to repurchase Nigeria’s own debt from one of their companies for more than double what Nigeria would have paid to repurchase the debt on the open market.”
- Bagudu received $700 million in cash illegally obtained under the pretext of security votes from Mohammed Abacha and helped transfer the money out of the country.
- It’s not over yet: A court case instituted by Bagudu against the US government has blocked Nigeria from recovering almost $550 million allegedly looted by Abacha. Bagudu said he has a valid “claim and interest” in assets subject to forfeiture.
One interesting annotation:“Liechtenstein gave us the biggest headache. It appeared to have developed cold feet over returning about €185 million located in its jurisdiction, which funds had been frozen by court orders since 2000….That was understandable: Abacha’s loot was worth about 25 per cent of the country’s annual budget in 2013.“
Bottomline: In Nigeria, criminals get rewarded. Bagudu is a Governor in Nigeria and one of the closest allies of President Buhari whose mantra is the fight against corruption.