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Return of more than £2 million of tainted funds to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

20 February 2024

His Majesty's Attorney General, Mark Temple KC, has this week entered into an agreement to return over £2 million to Nigeria to provide additional funds for a critical infrastructure project. 

On 19 May 2022, following receipt of evidence by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General made a successful application to the Royal Court of Jersey, pursuant to Articles 10 and 11 of the Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) (Jersey) Law 2018, in respect of £1.9 million of tainted property held in four Jersey-based accounts. The Attorney General argued that the accounts were created to hold and conceal bribes or other proceeds of corruption received by Lieutenant General Jeremiah Useni, described by the Royal Court as the second most senior Army officer under General Abacha. The order was upheld on 29 September 2022 by the Jersey Court of Appeal.

On 16 September 2022, in concurrent proceedings under the 2018 Forfeiture Law, the Attorney General secured the forfeiture of the balance of accounts controlled by Selcan Miner and Selbyen Caroline Miner (now deceased). The Royal Court of Jersey accepted that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the funds controlled by Selcan Miner derived, in whole or in part, from a criminal conspiracy involving himself and Lt-Gen Useni, whereby Miner had laundered the proceeds of bribes and other corrupt instrumentalities for Useni's benefit.

The agreement signed by the Attorney General this week provides that the funds forfeited (less the Attorney General's costs) shall be returned to Nigeria under the framework established by the 2020 Tripartite Agreement between Jersey, Nigeria and the USA. This enabled over $300 million, found to be the proceeds of corruption arising in Nigeria when General Abacha was head of state, to be repatriated for use on three critical infrastructure projects. One of the projects, the Second Niger Bridge, is now complete. The main carriageway of the Lagos to Iba​dan Expressway has also been completed, with only ancillary works remaining. The funds subject to the Agreement signed this week will go towards the final stages of the remaining project  – the Abuja to Kano Road. This is a 375km highway which will provide a vital link between the Nigerian capital and the Country's second-largest city.

A further asset share agreement is under negotiation to return an additional $8.9 million to Nigeria under the same framework. The Royal Court made the forfeiture order in relation to these funds on 12 January 2024 on the basis of that the tainted property was more likely that not proceeds of a corrupt scheme in 2014, in which third party contractors siphoned off government funds for the benefit of high-ranking Nigerian officials and their associates.

His Majesty's Attorney General, Mark Temple KC, said: “I am grateful for the assistance provided in these cases by the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Economic Crime and Confiscation Unit in the Law Officers' Department. The repatriation of more than £2 million serves to reinforce the commitment of the Bailiwick of Jersey in both the recovery of tainted property and the repatriation of such property for the benefit of the victims of corruption – in this case, the people of Nigeria. It also serves as a further illustration of the importance of Civil Forfeiture as a weapon in the ongoing fight against corruption, demonstrating that even in cases where a criminal prosecution is not possible, there is still a means to obtain justice."   ​

The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi SAN said: “On behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I thank the Bailiwick of Jersey for its continuous support and cooperation in ensuring that the forfeited sum of GBP 2,052,246 is to be repatriated to Nigeria. I wish to note that the entire process leading to the repatriation of looted funds from the Bailiwick of Jersey to the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been seamless, which depicts the commitment of the Bailiwick of Jersey to the recovery and repatriation of proceeds of crime for the benefit of the Nigerian people. Accordingly, I hereby reiterate the commitment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in ensuring that the repatriated funds are transparently and judiciously utilized in strict compliance with the executed agreement."    

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