(Lagos) Britain announced, on Tuesday, that it will return nearly five million euros to Nigeria, confiscated from the accounts of a former Nigerian governor of the oil-rich Delta state, who was convicted by a London court of corruption.
“This is the first time that money recovered from criminals has been returned to Nigeria (from Great Britain, Editor’s note) since the signing of the agreement signed in 2016 to return the funds in a responsible and transparent manner. It was embezzled from the Nigerian state,” the British Foreign Office said in a statement.
Financial agencies recovered 4.2 million pounds (7.4 million Canadian dollars) that James Ebury, governor of Delta State, an oil-rich southern region, embezzled between 1999 and 2007, according to a British court ruling.
According to the British press release, these funds should finance infrastructure projects in Nigeria, but the money returned through the anti-corruption policy of Muhammadu Buhari’s government evaded the institutions’ oversight.
He had embezzled 50 million pounds
James Eibori was imprisoned in April 2012 for embezzling nearly 50 million pounds (88 million Canadian dollars) after a lengthy extradition process, then released on bail in December 2016 in London.
His case was seen as innovative in fighting high-profile corruption in Nigeria, with billions of pounds being sent to Britain every year.
During his tenure as governor between 1999 and 2007, James Eibori used public funds to purchase housing, luxury cars and a private plane, according to British Justice.
A prominent figure in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), now in opposition, is said to have used the money to finance the election of Omar Musa Yar’Adua as President of Nigeria in 2007.
Millions of dollars of recovered money stolen by former military ruler Sani Abacha to Nigeria have been returned from Switzerland and other countries.
Apacha, who died in June 1998 after ruling Nigeria with an iron fist, is said to have stolen around $ 5 billion from Nigeria’s coffers.