The Federal Government has defended its decision to drop the money laundering charges against Mohammed Abacha, son of a former head of state, late General Sani Abacha, saying the decision was borne out of national interest and not because of selfish motive as being insinuated by some Nigerians.
A cross-section of Nigerians had expressed anger at the federal government’s decision to discontinue the trial of the younger Abacha over the funds looted by his father, who was Nigeria’s military ruler from 1993-1998.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Mr. Mohammed Adoke, explained government’s position in his address to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) annual Conference, which held in Owerri, Imo State, under the theme, “The Legal Profession in Nigeria”.
The minister pointed out that apart from the Abacha loot, the present administration had been very active in the tracing and recovery of stolen assets around the world.
He explained that the settlement the Federal Government reached with the Abacha family, which led to the significant recovery of assets in foreign jurisdictions, was a fitting testimony to the strenuous efforts being made to ensure the sufficient disgorgement of the proceeds of crime to serve as deterrence.
Adoke said: “I am aware of the negative commentaries that the settlement generated from those who were ill-informed about the details of the settlement and the underlying imperatives in the national interest.
“I however wish to reassure the Bar that every aspect of the settlement was transparently conducted and the outcome was in the national interest.
“The settlement has received commendation across the globe and is being used as model for Case Studies on stolen assets recovery.
“Let me use this opportunity to call on our colleagues with the penchant for making unguarded and baseless statements in the media to always seek information from appropriate quarters before commenting on issues”.
The minister, who also shed light on the controversial Freedom of Information Act, which appears to be observed more in the breach by government agencies in the country, said that his office had done what was necessary to ensure strict compliance with the law.