A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), said the Federal Government had given him and a consortium of lawyers the go ahead to start legal proceedings against foreign banks that colluded with Nigerian officials to loot the nation’s treasury.
Specifically, banks which warehoused money recovered from the estate of the former military dictator, the late Gen. Sani Abacha and a former governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori and others are being targeted.
Falana revealed this 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, on Thursday.
He explained that foreign banks would be taken to court and made to pay damages to Nigeria for the role they played in the illegal repatriation of our common patrimony.
According to him, it would be unjust to allow the banks to return a fraction of the principal amount stolen from Nigeria after keeping such funds for up to 20 years without compensating the people from which these funds were stolen from.
Falana 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.”
The human rights activist explained that the corruption in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector was a product of the lack of transparency in the operations and management of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
He noted that an independent investigation carried out by a team of lawyers he was working with, discovered how Nigeria was being cheated out of billions of dollars due to it because of the secrecy which had bedevilled the operations of the industry over the years.
Falana 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.”
He also explained that investigations had also revealed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission could not “touch oil companies unless the President gives the go ahead.”
On the 2018 budget before the National Assembly, Falana said while the legislators had their problems, the executive was also not sincere about the exact budget size. – Punch
– Mar. 23, 2018 @ 12:05 GMT |