The Second Niger Bridge is a major beneficiary of the $23 million Abacha loot that the United States agreed today to repatriate.

Nigeria signed an agreement with the United States to use the entire funds for the Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and Abuja-Kano road.

US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, represented her country at the signing ceremony in Abuja today 24 August 2022.

The agreement signals the formal release of the funds which the country sorely needs for the three critical infrastructure projects.

When executed, this transfer brings total amount returned to Nigeria through the US Department of Justice to approximately $334.7 million. 

The agreement however comes with five tough conditions attached, according to a statement from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

The statement said the DOJ and Nigeria agreed to the following terms and conditions:

  • Nigeria applies 100 percent of the funds to complete the three projects through Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA)
  • The parties will carry out periodic reviews of how NSIA administers the funds
  • An independent auditor conducts a financial review of how NSIA administered the funds
  • An independent civil society organization “with expertise in engineering and other areas” monitors the projects
  • Nigeria will not use the money to benefit “alleged perpetrators of the corruption” or pay contingency fees for lawyers.

How Nigeria reclaimed the looted funds

Nigeria filed a civil forfeiture complaint to reclaim more than $625 million corruption transfers made by late military head of state, General Sanni Abacha.

In 2014, United States District Judge John D. Bates ruled that the US forfeits approximately $500 million looted by Abacha and his accomplices to Nigeria.

Court filings named Abacha’s son Mohammed, an associate, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and others as the accomplices.

The judgment triggered a massive search for the loot by the US in collaboration with the UK and other world security agencies.

They traced the looted funds to various accounts around the world.

In 2020, the US Department of Justice repatriated over $311.7 million located in the Bailiwick of Jersey. The U.K. government also enforced the U.S. judgment by transferring an additional $23 million to Nigeria.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in the statement that the DOJ commits to “to recover and return corruption proceeds laundered through the U.S. financial system.”