US turns down request for information on returned $311m Abacha loot

Posted by News Express | 14 May 2020 | 803 times

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•Human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe

The US Government on Tuesday denied the appeal by international human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe for expedited disclosure of documents related to late Chief of Staff Abba Kyari’s role in the recovery of the $311 million Abacha loot recently returned to Nigeria by the US.

A letter signed by Susan C. Weetman, Deputy Director, Office of Information Programs and Services, told Mr. Ogebe:

“This is in response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, dated May 7, 2020, for all documents, including memos, cables, meeting read outs and specific requests from and involving the Chief of Staff to Nigeria’s President, Abba Kyari, regarding the return of the “Abacha loot” – monies stolen from Nigeria and forfeited to the US government. Specifically, this letter addresses your appeal dated May 8, 2020, of the Department of State’s denial of expedited processing.

“We have considered your appeal of the denial of expedited processing. Our published regulations regarding expedition, 22 C.F.R. 171.11(f), require a specific showing of a compelling need. Expedited processing is granted only in the following situations:

(1) Imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual;

(2) Urgently needed by an individual primarily engaged in disseminating information in order to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity; or

(3) Impair substantial due process rights or harm substantial humanitarian interests.

“Your request and appeal do not meet the established criteria. Regrettably, I must advise that you have not provided adequate justification for expedition and I must uphold the decision to deny expedited processing. Please be assured that the Department takes its FOIA responsibilities very seriously and we are processing this request in as timely a manner as possible. All appropriate offices have been advised of your interest in this matter.

“In 2007, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) was created to offer mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies as a non-exclusive alternative to litigation. Using OGIS services does not affect your right to pursue litigation. You may contact OGIS at: Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road-OGIS, College Park, MD 20740-6001.

“This represents the Department’s final determination on expedited processing and exhausts all administrative remedies available to you. As you may know, you have the right to seek judicial review of this determination under 5 U.S.C. Section 552 (a)(4).

“For further communications with this office, please contact and include the case number F-2020-05405.”

Source: News Express

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