Anti-corruption activists in Abuja met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry where they urged the U.S. government to expedite the return of billions of dollars of the country’s stolen wealth by local officials stashed in the North American nation.
More than half a billion dollars of stolen assets by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha was frozen by the U.S. Justice Department in 2014.
Asset recovery in the United States is a lengthy and complicated bureaucratic process but Kerry informed campaigners that attorneys and accountants are working on having them returned to the Nigerian people.
Kerry said corruption has set the development of many African countries at bay and nations across world lose more than $2.5T to the crime annually.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has taken a non-tolerance approach to graft. He won elections in 2015 partly because of his promise to prosecute those found wanting to stealing tax payers’ money. At least five former government officials from the Jonathan administration are in court for alleged corrupt practicing including a former military advisor and a military chief. Buhari’s government said funds meant for buying new weapons to fight Islamist extremist group Boko Haram and to pay salaries were diverted.
Anti-corruption groups said more than $20 billion in oil revenue have gone missing and Nigeria’s government confirmed than more than $150 million has been lost due to corruption within the last decade.