Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, last night, cleared the air on the claim by a U.S-based Nigerian lawyer that he would frustrate the repatriation of N218.3 billion Abacha loot unless he was paid his legal fees.
Godson Nnaka, a Texas-based attorney, has already slammed a suit in the United States asking the court not to grant the huge cash to Nigeria unless he was paid 40 percent of the money, which he claimed he worked for based on a 2004 letter of authority, granted him by the Nigerian Government to scout for and recover the loot.
Nnaka also accused the AGF of demanding for 70 percent of the 40 percent due to him as a condition of revalidating his letter of authority to repatriate the cash, something he said he was not willing to oblige.
But Malami said last night that Nnaka was trying to defraud Nigeria after because the money was almost being drawn down because of the strident effort of the Buhari administration.
Malami, who described Nnaka’s claims as spurious, said that he did not have a valid authority letter asking him to scout for and recover Abacha loot for Nigeria and challenged him to produce the said letter, if he indeed had one.
According to Malami, Nnaka was merely given a conditional offer letter by the former Attorney General of the Federation, Olujimi, to demonstrate his ability to track and recover any stolen money hidden away in the U.S by the Abacha family and he failed woefully to recover any amount since 2004.
“I want to put in on record that Nigeria never authorised him to locate repatriate Abacha loot. If he was given such an authorisation, Nigerians should ask him why he is asking me to revalidate his letter of authority,’’ Malami said.
“Again after 14 years of the so-called letter of authority to repatriate money from the U.S, the man has not brought a dime but he is busy filing frivolous claims to block the federal government from recovering the Abacha loot.
“Now if Nnaka said that he had sighted and recovered Abacha loot, let him tell Nigerians which banks the money is being domiciled and how much he recovered,” a furious Malami challenged Nnaka.
On the lawyer’s claim that the AGF demanded 70 percent bribe from him, Malami denied it, saying that those who know him, are aware that he neither demands nor collects bribes.
“Nothing can be far from the truth and I cannot bring down myself and high office to negotiate for gratification with a man who has no business to do with me or Nigeria. That is just the truth,” the minister said.
“All these stories he is fabricating came about because I refused to play along with him on the grounds that Nigeria does not pay anyone more than five percent for such services he said he rendered to the country.
“In fact at a point, he threatened to disrupt President Buhari’s visit to the U.S and to deal with me if I fail to revalidate his authority letter; so I had to keep away from such a person, who in the first place is not licensed to practice law in Maryland where the Abacha loot case is taking place,” Malami stated.
Asked how the money would be drawn down given the new twist by the lawyer, Malami said the Federal Government was working with the U.S. Government to repatriate the cash and that the case to resolve all the issues would be coming up in September this year.