Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has said that the federal government has given him and his team of lawyers the go ahead to go after foreign banks that colluded with Nigerian officials to hold the country’s loot.
The Punch reports that Falana spoke at the end of a two-day training workshop on anti-corruption monitoring and reporting, organised by the Human Environmental Development Agenda Resource Centre, in Abuja.
Falana said they were specifically targeting foreign banks that warehoused funds looted by late Gen. Sani Abacha and a former governor of Delta state, James Ibori.
He said: “I belong to a team of international lawyers, we were able to squeeze a fiat from the Attorney General, we worked on it for one and half years and what were we doing? We are telling the banks – don’t forget Transparency International, it takes two to tango.
If you have not warehoused the stolen money from here nobody will take the money there, we have got a fait to sue all the banks abroad that warehoused loot from Abacha, Ibori and others because, you can’t just return part of the principal, you must pay damages because this money was meant to construct roads and hospitals.
“If you collected the money and put it in your bank for 16 to 20 years you must come and pay damages, we have started on that.”
Falana noted that the lack of transparency in the operations and management of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was responsible for huge corruption in the country. He said the country has being cheated out of billions of dollars due to its shady operations.
The human rights lawyer said: “I belong to a team of lawyers that have done some work on the stealing of our crude oil and we discovered to our utter chagrin, that between January 2011 and December 2014 the oil stolen from here – what we did was to get the information from the loading point here and go to the point of its discharge.
“In one port, Philadelphia in the United States, we discovered that in three years, 60.2 million barrels of oil were not recorded here but recorded there for the purposes of taxation and valued at $12.7bn. If you take all the ports in the US where our oil was discharged at that period – I challenged this government that we could make about $200bn.
“We are not going to China yet, India, Britain, France and all the countries that our oil was taken to during that period where there was total collapse of values and integrity of our country, that was the period that everybody was taking our oil. We are already doing something.”
Meanwhile, some Nigerian lawyers that assisted with the recovery of $321 million stolen by Sani Abacha,a former military ruler, will be paid $17 million (over N6 billion) by the federal government for their services.
The Cable reports that the lawyers who were freshly engaged by the federal government to help with the repatriation of the looted funds are to get nearly thrice more than what was already paid to Swiss lawyer, Enrico Monfrini, for the same job which he was yet to complete before Nigeria mysteriously decided to engage the services of another set of lawyers.