The United States government has reportedly reacted to the appointment of the newly sworn-in minister of budget and economic planning, Atiku Bagudu, whom the US has accused of helping a former dictator, Sani Abacha loots billions of dollars in the 1990s.
According to Bloomberg, the US Justice Department alleges Baguadu was part of Abacha’s group that “embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria.”
In a 2013 complaint filed at the District Court for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department alleged that:
“Bagudu played an instrumental role in setting up and executing the complicated financial transactions used to launder the proceeds of the conspiracy” that took place under Abacha.
US assessing Bagudu’s ministerial appointment
Reacting to Baguda’s appointment, a spokesperson of the US State Department, in an email said the American government is “aware of the appointments announced by President Tinubu” and is “assessing the implications” of Bagudu’s nomination.
The US Justice Department, however, declined to comment on Bagudu’s appointment as minister of budget and planning.
Bagudu repatriated about $650m after Abacha’s death
According to US court filings, the 61-year-old Bagudu voluntarily repatriated more than $650 million to Nigeria in 1998 after Abacha’s death.
PCB Byrne, a London-based law firm representing Bagudu, appears to confirm this in an email.
The law firm said the “unproven” allegations omit Bagudu’s “immediate and effective assistance in the recovery of funds following the death of General Abacha”
According to PCB Byrne, Baguda has “met his obligations” under the 2003 agreement and “contributed very significantly to Nigerian society over the subsequent 20 years.”
Bagudu’s lawyers added that he was never convicted of any offence in any jurisdiction.
The former Kebbi state governor reportedly settled with the federal government.
According to the report, Bagudu didn’t admit to any wrongdoing and the FG dropped outstanding civil and criminal claims against him in exchange for the return of an additional $163 million.