The federal government, in 2021, engaged the services of a US firm to recover illicit funds allegedly traced to the account of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The firm was also contracted to retrieve such funds from the accounts of Ayodele Fayose, former Ekiti governor, and Musiliu Obanikoro, a former senator.
In a memo marked HAGF/AABIOLA/USA/2021/VOL.1/1 — and dated May 31, 2021 — Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), engaged Akib Abiola as the lead recovery agent to recover the funds on behalf of the federal government.
In the letter of engagement, Malami said the stolen assets are currently under forfeiture proceedings.
“Following the proposal submitted by Mr. Akib Abiola. (hereinafter “Lead Recovery Agent”) vide letter dated 9 March and 6 May 2021 respectively, please be informed that the federal government of Nigeria has engaged you to recover the funds traced to the accounts located in the United States of America and belonging to the individuals listed in paragraph 2 of this engagement letter (hereinafter illicit funds),” the letter reads.
“The scope of the engagement is for the recovery of the illicit funds traced to Mr. Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Ayo Fayose, And Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro in the United States of America.”
Abiola was given the responsibility of “instituting an action severally or jointly against Atiku Abubakar, his family and associates towards recovering the stolen assets due to the FGN from the proceeds of crime currently under a forfeiture proceeding at the United States”.
Other responsibilities include “identifying and providing information to the undersigned (Malami) about any assets subject or likely to be subject to forfeiture proceedings in the United States of America, limited to Mr. Ayo Fayose (former governor of Ekiti States) and Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro (former minister of state for defence and former High commissioner to Ghana)”.
The lead recovery agent was also mandated to negotiate settlements, sign letters, and agreements, and work in collaboration with the AGF for the purpose of recovering the funds.
The AGF noted that “where lead recovery agent and its partner solicitors 1dentifies any other assets (financial or otherwise) which may be pursued as a recovery prospect, it shall bring such information to the attention of the undersigned (Malami) for express approval before proceeding with any legal processes towards the recovery and repatriation of such asset”.
FIVE PERCENT LEGAL FEES
According to the AGF, the lead recovery agent is entitled to a “success fee” amounting to five percent of “actual recoveries made and remitted to the designated accounts” of the federal government.
“This fee shall be paid in respect of cash recovery within sixty (60) days of the collective receipt of same by the federal government of Nigeria,” the letter reads.
“The aforesaid success fee shall be deemed to cover all the expenses incurred by the lead recovery agent and any agents or associates contracted by your firm in the course of its engagement. For the avoidance of doubt, the federal government of Nigeria will not enter separate terms of engagement with such agents, associates, attorneys or sub-contractors.”