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$2 BILLION ABACHA LOOT: Gov Bagudu, wife file suit to claim seized funds in US



Although Nigeria is yet to take steps to recov­er the $2 billion loot­ed by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, which the United States government has seized, the Kebbi State Gov­ernor, Alhaji Abubakar Ati­ku Bagudu and his wife, Aisha, have filed a suit seeking to re­cover the money as their own.

To claim the money, they filed separate court processes ti­tled: “Verified Claim and State­ment of Interest” on the loot at the District Court of Columbia, in the US.

Their joint attorney, Jon­athan R. Barr (DC Bar No 437334) of the Baker & Hostetler LLP Chamber, whose law office is located at 1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suit 1100, Washington DC, filed the claims drawn up by the duo on May 1, 2004.
In the claim referring to suit number 13-CV-1832 (JDB), Bagudu and his wife asked for a reversal of the court’s verdict which had declared that the money was illicit fund laun­dered into the US and there­fore forfeited to the American government.
Approaching the court through 18 USC 983 (a) (4) and Rule G (5) (a) of the Sup­plemental Rules for Admiralty or Marine Claims and Assets Forfeiture Actions of the Fed­eral Rules of Civil Procedure (Supplemental Rules), Bagudu stated that “I have a claim to and interest in the property al­leged to be subject to forfeiture in this action.”
His wife made a similar declaration. The key actors in the loot, according to the court documents obtained by The AUTHORITY were: son of the late Head of State, Mohammed Sani Abacha, the incumbent Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, for­mer National Security Adviser (NSA), Alhaji Ismaila Gwarzo, the current Senator represent­ing Niger East Senatorial Dis­trict, Mr. David Umaru, Alhaji Ahmadu Daura, former Minis­ter of Finance, Chief Anthony Ani, Dumez Group, Doraville Properties Corporation, Eagle Alliance International Limited (Eagle Alliance), Mecosta Se­curities (Inc), Rayville Interna­tional SA, Ridley Group Limit­ed, Standard Alliance Financial Services Limited and Dumez Nigeria Limited.
The foreign banks involved in the financial mess were ANZ Banking Group, New York; Bankers Trust Company, New York; Barclays Bank, New York; Citibank NA, New York; Chase Manhattan Bank, New York; Chemical Bank, New York; Commerzbank AG, New York; Marine Midland Bank, New York (now HSBC USA, NA, and Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, New York (now JP Morgan Chase).
Within the shores of Nige­ria, the Central Bank of Nige­ria (CBN), the Inland Bank Plc and the Union Bank Plc, were among the banks which also played prominent roles in the intricate web of wire transfers that led to fleecing the country of the money, mainly obtained under false security vote letters by Gwarzo.
The District of Columbia Court had expressly stated that the aforementioned personali­ties and companies embezzled, misappropriated, defrauded and extorted hundreds of mil­lions of dollars from the gov­ernment of Nigeria and others, including the proceeds of those crimes through conduct in and affecting the US.
“The defendants in rem are subject to forfeiture as proper­ty involved in money launder­ing offences in violation of US law,” it said.
Our investigations showed that $287 million was deposited into account number 80020796 in the name of Doravile Prop­erties Corporation located at Deutshe Bank International Limited in Bailiwick of Jersey.
Also, $12 million was de­posited into account number S-104460 owned by Moham­med Sani (full names, Moham­med Sani Abacha) at the BSBC Fund Administration (Jersey) Limited in the Bailwick of Jer­sey. This was as $1 million was deposited into account num­ber 2234058801USD in the name of Rayville Internation­al, SA at Banque SBA in Paris, France, among several of such fund deposit.
In Bagudu’s fund recov­ery claim which he executed and signed on April 25, 2004 in Abuja, he declared that “I Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, with­out waiving any rights to con­test jurisdiction in this matter, submit this verified claim” pur­suant to the rules of the court.
He continued: “I have a claim and interest in the prop­erty alleged to be subject to for­feiture in this action, including all assets held in the name of Blue Holding (1) Pte Ltd, on behalf of or traceable to Ridley Group Limited and or the Rid­ley Trust at J. O. Hambro In­vestment Management Limited in the UK and all interest, ben­efits, or assets traceable there­to.”
The governor declared that “the assets held in the name of Blue Holdings (1) and (2) are held in trust by a trust company through Blue Holdings (1) and (2) Pte Ltd, an investment vehi­cle, for the benefit of the ben­eficiaries of Blue Family Trust (1) and (2).
“That I am a beneficiary of the Blue Family Trust (1). Blue Family holds no other as­sets other than the assets held in the name of Blue Holdings (1) and (2).
“Any distributions by Blue Family Trust (1) and (2) to me or for my benefit are trans­ferred directly from the assets held in the name of Blue Hold­ings (1) and (2), by virtue of the foregoing I have a benefi­cial interest and or other finan­cial stake in the claimed prop­erty,” he said.
For the fact that a default judgment is already made, Ba­gudu stated that “pursuant to Supplemental Rule E (8), I ap­pear before this court for the limited purpose of asserting and defending this claim in this in rem forfeiture action. My ap­pearance does not constitute an appearance for any other pur­pose, nor do I consent to the ju­risdiction of this court or any other court.”
Contents of a similar claim made by Aisha, Badudu’s wife, were exactly the same as her husband’s and was signed and executed on the same day af­ter which the documents were served on Elizabeth A. Aloi, the Trial Attorney, Assets For­feiture and Money Laundering Section (Criminal Division), US Department of Justice, lo­cated at 1400 New York Ave­nue, Washington DC.
The claims were equally served on Barrister Charles C. Agwumezie, of the CAVAL Le­gal Group PLLC, 1629 K Street NW, Washington DC, one of the five Nigerian US-based law­yers who started the processes that led to the assets forfeiture on April 1 as earlier reported by The AUTHORITY.

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