By Mohammed Momoh in Abuja…….
The letter, released on Sunday in Abuja, is addressed to President Donald Trump and the US Administration.
“These proceeds are separate from the $480 million of Abacha-origin funds that have been forfeited to the US under an August 2014 US federal district court order.
“SERAP’s request was fully consistent with the UN Convention Against Corruption, which both the US and Nigeria have ratified,” it reads.
The letter is dated February 3, 2017 and signed by the organisation’s US Volunteer Counsel, Prof Alexander W. Sierck, and the Executive Director, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni.
It tells President Trump that, “the US Department of Justice must promptly initiate civil asset forfeiture proceedings against these proceeds so as to fulfill several non-controversial commitments by the US to assist Nigeria in recovering assets looted by former Nigerian government officials.”
A copy of the letter was sent to the US ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, and the US Secretary of State, Mr Rex Tillerson.
The organisation said that the respective governments ought to commit to promptly share information with civil society organisations on stolen assets of Nigerian origin located in the US.
“SERAP notes that Article 51 of the UN Convention against Corruption provides for the return of “corrupt” assets to countries of origin as a fundamental principle.
“Article 43 provides likewise. Similarly, under Articles 47(3)(a) and (b) states parties have an obligation to return forfeited or confiscated assets in cases of public corruption, as here, or when the requesting party reasonably establishes either prior ownership or damages to the states.
Nigeria’s Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption recently informed SERAP that the US government had identified another $500 million proceeds of Nigerian corruption subject to US jurisdiction.
Last month, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay, raised the alarm that Nigeria risked losing another $550m recovered from the Abacha family to the US.
Prof Sagay said the amount represented a separate tranche from the earlier $480 million forfeited to the US following a court judgment.
“Nigeria presently stands to lose another $550m recovered from the Abacha family to the US, contrary to the earlier promise by the US to return same to Nigeria,” he claimed.