Ex-FCT minister Useni forfeits £1.9 million in Jersey

adeaff jeremiah useni
adeaff jeremiah useni

From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

The Government of the Bailiwick of Jersey has announced the forfeiture of the sum of £1.9 million by former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lieutenant General Jeremiah Useni (retd).

Useni who represented Plateau South in the Senate from 2015 to 2019, contested for the governorship of the state in the 2019 general elections in which incumbent Governor Simon Lalong was declared winner.

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He had previously served as Military Governor of the defunct Bendel State in 1984 before serving as FCT Minister during the military regime of late General Sani Abacha.

The Government of Jersey, in a statement on its website, recalled that: “On 28 May 2021, Her Majesty’s Attorney General served a forfeiture notice under Article 10 (1) of the Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) (Jersey) Law 2018 on Lieutenant General Jeremiah Timbut Useni (Retired) seeking the forfeiture of approximately £1.9 million deposited into Jersey numbered bank accounts in a false identity between 1989 and the late 1990s. After today (19 May), the Royal Court granted the Attorney General’s application to forfeit the funds.”

The Government of Jersey further said the Attorney General argued the accounts were created to hold and conceal bribes, or other proceeds of corruption, received by Useni during the period he held high political office in the Abacha regime.

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“The payments into the accounts were received by Lieutenant General Useni for the purposes or on account of, exercising political influence over the award of lucrative contracts to foreign and Nigerian companies for the supply of industrial or commercial services in Nigeria and therefore represented tainted property liable to be forfeited under the 2018 Forfeiture Law.

“Lieutenant General Useni did not attend the forfeiture hearing nor was he represented at the hearing, although he was represented at previous hearings in the case. The decision is open to appeal,” the Government of Jersey said.

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Attorney General of the Government of Jersey, Mark Temple, while reacting to the development, said: “Jersey has robust and effective legislation which in appropriate cases will be used to forfeit monies associated with corruption summarily and ensure that such funds are returned for the benefit of the people who have suffered from its effects.

“I will explore with the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria how to return these forfeited assets to the people of Nigeria. However, there is an existing framework for the return of funds to Nigeria linked to the Abacha regime which was successfully established with the Governments of Nigeria and the United States in relation to the return of over US$300 million of the assets of Doraville Properties Corporation.”