UK to return $5.8 million to Nigeria from jailed politician's stolen assets

ABUJA (Reuters) - Britain has agreed to send to Nigeria 4.2 million pounds ($5.84 million) recovered from a former state governor who was jailed for laundering money in Britain, the two countries said on Tuesday.

James Ibori, who was governor of southern oil-producing Delta State from 1999 to 2007, pleaded guilty at London’s Southwark Crown Court in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering. He received a 13-year sentence.

The 4.2 million pounds was stolen by Ibori and his associates but retrieved through operations led by British law enforcement agencies, who identified assets bought in Britain with illicit funds, the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Nigeria’s attorney general, Abubakar Malami, said the funds would be used to help complete a number of infrastructure projects, including a road connecting the capital Abuja and northern commercial hub Kano.

“I am confident that both the Nigerian and British governments remain committed to all affirmative actions to combat corruption... (and) illicit financial flows,” Malami said at a ceremony at which officials from the two countries signed an agreement on the return of the funds.

The agreement builds on a 2016 memorandum of understanding that provides a framework for the return of stolen assets to Nigeria.

Reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja and Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Nick Macfie