The Delta State Government has asked the Federal Government to return the £4.2 million James Ibori loot being repatriated to Nigeria by the United Kingdom to the state.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who disclosed this on a private national television on Wednesday, believes since the money was stolen from the state, it would only be just to return the funds back to the state.
According to the chief executive, he expects the Federal Government to take a similar route as the UK Government by returning the money to the source it was pilfered from.
“In the same manner of the relationship created between the UK and Nigeria, we also expect that the Nigerian Government will do the same thing by being magnanimous to return the money back to the source, which is Delta State,” he said.
“I have spoken with the attorney-general of the federation. My attorney-general went to have a meeting with him. I think that we are working and we are likely to come on the same page. We have written a formal letter of protest to Mr President,”
To guarantee that Deltans benefit from the repatriated loot, the governor said it had provided options to the Federal Government and made a compelling case for the state.
“We have made two suggestions; return the money directly to us or apply it directly to projects that we feel are of importance and are in Delta State so that Deltans can directly benefit from the repatriated funds and I don’t think anybody can fault that line (of thinking)”, he said.
The protest by the state it would be recalled is in reaction to the decision of the Federal Government to spend the funds on federal projects.
Nigeria and the UK had signed a memorandum of understanding on March 9 for the repatriation of the funds stolen by Ibori, a former Delta State.
But the development became mired in controversy shortly after the MoU was signed when the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, revealed the money will be spent by the Federal Government.
Malami had argued earlier on the same national private television that, “The major consideration relating to who is entitled to a fraction or perhaps the money in its entirety is a function of law and international diplomacy,” Mr. Malami told Channels TV of the Federal Government’s decision.
“All the processes associated with the recovery were consummated by the federal government and the federal government is, indeed, the victim of crime and not sub-national.”
The projects according to him it will be spent on were the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.