The late military dictator, Sani Abacha, was infamous in Nigeria, and Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State was charged by prosecutors in the United States and the United Kingdom of working as his go- between during the years before he was elected governor of the state.
Abacha was a vicious kleptocrat who plundered the country’ s finances for an estimated $2. 2 billion over the course of his tenure before his death in 1998.
Abacha’ s massive money laundering activities were brought to a close, according to court documents, by Mr Bagudu’ s fuel, which was used to propel them forward.
Attorneys for Mr Abacha allege that he collaborated with members of his own family, senior members of the regime, and Mohammed, Mr Abacha’ s eldest son, to use an intricate network of fictitious companies to siphon several millions of dollars from the government treasury into offshore bank accounts controlled by himself and members of his family, according to the indictment.
There is considerable documentation of Mr Bagudu’ s money- laundering operations on behalf of Mr Abacha, including lawsuits filed in the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey, a British Crown dependency in the Channel Islands, as well as other jurisdictions.
The fact that Mr Bagudu, who now enjoys immunity from prosecution as a result of his position as governor, was once detained for his involvement in the Abacha money laundering organization and detained in a US federal detention facility for six months is something that many Nigerians are not aware of.
HOW THE GOVERNOR WAS ARRESTED
However, despite the fact that British and American investigators think that Mr Bagudu’ s money- laundering scheme was enormous and spanned over a wide range of jurisdictions, he relied on the cooperation of his wife and his elder brother Ibrahim to carry out his criminal enterprise. Jersey was his preferred site for concealing illicit funds on behalf of the Abacha family, and it was also where he spent the most of his time during his tenure there.
Mr. Bagudu’ s attraction to Jersey was both the source of and the effect of his struggles in the United Kingdom.
After five years of investigation, it was revealed that Abacha had stolen billions of dollars from the Nigerian treasury throughout his dictatorship. Mr Bagudu had been living in Texas for three years at the time of the request for assistance, and the authorities of the Island nation asked the assistance of US authorities in apprehending and extraditing Mr Bagudu, who had been living in Jersey for part of that time.
He was arrested and held in federal detention for six months while awaiting extradition to Jersey to answer questions about funds traced to the account of Doraville Properties Corp. , a company managed by Mr Bagudu and Mohammed and with accounts at Deutsche Bank International in Jersey. Mr Bagudu and Mohammed were both arrested and held in federal detention for six months while awaiting extradition to Jersey. Mr. Bagudu and Mohammed were both accused with money laundering, and their cases were brought together.
According to a court document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Bagudu negotiated an agreement with the United States and Jersey authorities to ” return more than $163 million of the allegedly laundered assets to Nigeria in exchange for Jersey’ s withdrawal of the extradition request and his return to Nigeria, ”
before being handed over to authorities in the British territory.
There is a court document in this case that is a January 2019 ruling of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia between the United States government and assets held in Doraville Properties Account 80020796 at Deutsche Bank, which are represented by Ibrahim, who is the only person who has not yet laid claim to $287 million in the Doraville Properties Account.
The court petition states that once the United States government initiated a civil forfeiture case against the cash in the aforementioned account, a number of people submitted claims against the assets, all of which were denied.
” The only remaining third- party claim in this litigation is Bagudu’ s (Ibrahim) asserted claim to certain defendant assets, which is based on an annuity he receives from investment portfolios in which the defendant assets are held. ”
HOW THE GOVERNOR WAS RELEASED
As a consequence of an arrangement negotiated with the governments of Jersey and the United States, Mr Bagudu was released on bond and returned to Nigeria, where he will face trial. Evidence gathered in Jersey and Switzerland was also transferred to Nigeria in order to assist the country’ s Attorney General in his trial in that country as well, according to the report.
THE GOVERNOR HAS NOT BEEN THREATENED SINCE HIS RETURN
Since his return, he has not been grilled about his involvement in the Abacha looting, but has instead been granted permission to run in three different election circles– one as a senator and two as governor– in which he has been successful in every one of the three.
When contacted via his mobile phone number, Mr Bagudu did not return calls, which were left unanswered. His response to questions regarding why he did not turn himself in for trial when he returned to Nigeria, which were sent to him through text message, was likewise non- responsive.
Similar to this, Abubakar Malami, the Attorney- General of the Federation (AGF), did not return calls to his mobile phone number when they were made to his office. The minister also did not respond to a text message in which he was asked if he was aware of the terms of the deal Mr Bagudu had reached with officials from the United States and the island of Jersey.
On another point, we enquired of Mr Malami about what had happened to the pieces of evidence that had been turned over to Nigerian authorities to aid in the prosecution of Mr Bagudu, and we asked him whether the government planned on prosecuting Mr Bagudu after Mr Buhari’ s term as president came to an end. We reached out to the AGF for comment, but did not receive any response.
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