- The appointment of Atiku Bagudu as minister of budget and economic planning has gotten the attention of the United States
- The US Justice Department has accused Bagudu of being a part of the late Sani Abacha's group used for embezzling billions of Nigeria's wealth
- The former Kebbi state governor was sworn in as minister by President Bola Tinubu on Monday, August 21
United States, Washington DC- The United States government has reportedly reacted to the appointment of the newly sworn-in minister of budget and economic planning, Atiku Bagudu.
The US accused Bagudu of helping a former dictator, the late General Sani Abacha, to loot billions of dollars in the 1990s.
According to Bloomberg, the US Justice Department alleged that Baguadu was part of Abacha’s group that embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria.
In a 2013 complaint filed at the District Court for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department alleged that:
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"Bagudu played an instrumental role in setting up and executing the complicated financial transactions used to launder the proceeds of the conspiracy” that took place under Abacha.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had said the newly sworn-in ministers:
“...have been carefully selected by me for their track records of excellence and achievement in public and private sectors.”
Tinubu stated this after his cabinet took their oaths of office in Abuja on Monday, August 21.
US assessing Bagudu’s ministerial appointment
Reacting to Baguda’s appointment, a spokesperson of the US State Department, in an email, said the American government is "aware of the appointments announced by President Tinubu” and is “assessing the implications” of Bagudu’s nomination.
The US Justice Department, however, declined to comment on Bagudu’s appointment as minister of budget and planning.
Bagudu repatriated about $650m after Abacha’s death
According to US court filings, the 61-year-old Bagudu voluntarily repatriated more than $650 million to Nigeria in 1998 after Abacha’s death.
PCB Byrne, a London-based law firm representing Bagudu, appears to confirm this in an email.
The law firm said the “unproven” allegations omit Bagudu’s “immediate and effective assistance in the recovery of funds following the death of General Abacha.”
According to PCB Byrne, Baguda has “met his obligations” under the 2003 agreement and “contributed very significantly to Nigerian society over the subsequent 20 years.”
Bagudu’s lawyers added that he was never convicted of any offence in any jurisdiction.
The former Kebbi state governor reportedly settled with the federal government in 2003.
According to the report, Bagudu didn’t admit to any wrongdoing, and the FG dropped outstanding civil and criminal claims against him in exchange for the return of an additional $163 million.
Tinubu finally swears in 45 ministers
Meanwhile, Legit.ng reported that President Bola Tinubu officially inaugurated his cabinet of 45 ministers on Monday, August 21, at the State House Conference Center, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The swearing-in process was carried out in seven separate batches, each consisting of several ministers, Dada Olusegun, the Special Assistant to the president on social media noted.
Bagudu makes last-minute appointments on the handover day
Outgoing Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, has announced the appointments of a head of Service and four permanent secretaries a few hours before handing over to Governor-elect Nasiru Idris in Birnin Kebbi, the state capital.
The new appointments were contained in a statement by Bagudu’s media aide, Yahaya Sarki.