CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION URGING THE CREATION OF A $458 MILLION VICTIMS OF TERROR PROTECTION FUND UTILIZING THE ABACHA FORFEITED FUNDS
October 26, 2015
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee released the following statement today regarding her legislation to create a fund to protect victims terrorized by Boko Haram: “As a result of terrorism in the region and Boko Haram in particular in Nigeria, recent reports inform us that Nigeria has the highest number of displaced persons in Africa and the third largest in the world following Syria and Columbia, in part because of security issues and the continual threat of Boko Haram.
“As founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Nigeria Caucus and Co-Chair of the Congressional Children’s Caucus, the recovery and reintegration of the victims of Boko Haram, including the Chibok girls should be a top priority and an important part of the larger strategy to combat the scourge of Boko Haram.
“I continue to have a deep appreciation of the patriotism, resilience, and commitment of the Nigerian people under the leadership of their newly democratically elected President Muhammadu Buhari. I also commend the Obama Administration’s recent commitment of troops in Africa to combat Boko Haram.
The United States Department of Justice Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative seized $458 million from former Nigerian Dictator Sanni Abacha. To date, the forfeited fund is the largest kleptocracy forfeiture action ever brought in the United States. Upon recovery of the stolen or corruption-related assets, the Attorney General as the Chief Prosecutor of the United States has the discretion to dispose of the funds as she deems fit.
“In May of this year (2015), I wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch expressing to her the urgent need to establish a Victims of Terror Protection Fund for the victims of Boko Haram, the ISIS-affiliated terrorist group devastating Nigeria. Despite the written bipartisan support of over 25 Members of Congress, the Attorney General has not taken action.
“Recovered victims displaced by terrorist activity will be in dire need of protection and support. A Victim of Terror Protection Fund can supply health aid, educational support, and overall improved social welfare of these victims of terror. The cases of Equatorial Guinea and Kazakhstan are examples of prior kleptocracy initiatives that have been created to benefit communities and victims in need of support and protection.
“To succeed at all our objectives, Nigeria must have continued U.S. support in protecting victims of terror, technical training, logistical and infrastructural capabilities and professionalizing its military force to battle Boko Haram.
“Our goal is that these forfeited assets are made available for the thousands of Boko Haram victims to be reintegrated back into a life of dignity which all human beings deserve. Support for reintegration of victims and survivors of violent extremism will facilitate healing for the next generation of youth who can be instrumental in combatting violent extremism-putting us on the path towards global security.”
Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.