A UK court has granted Louis Williams Emovbira, a British-Nigerian who was mistreated and defrauded by the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) in the 1980s, the right to seize $21 million and nearly £20,000 from Nigeria’s central bank account held with JP Morgan in the United States. The court ruling by Justice Mary Clare Moulder allows Mr. Emovbira to access $21,231,960.74 and £19,763.130 from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s account with JP Morgan.
In a lawsuit filed on June 26, 2023, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Mr. Emovbira claimed entitlement to the judgment funds held in Nigeria’s savings at JP Morgan. His lawyers stated that he had obtained a money judgment in his favor against the Nigerian government.
The lawsuit revealed that Mr. Emovbira had previously obtained the judgment from the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice on November 9, 2018. However, the funds had accumulated nine percent interest over almost five years since the judgment was issued.
According to court documents, in 1986, Mr. Emovbira guaranteed $6.5 million for his client, Pearl Konsult Ltd (PKL), to export foodstuff to Nigeria from England. An individual named Reuben Gale, who turned out to be an operative of the SSS, approached PKL with an offer of paying N30 million through bank drafts. Subsequently, Mr. Emovbira’s bank account was frozen upon the drafts’ readiness for encashment, and it was revealed that Gale was acting on behalf of someone linked to the SSS.
Mr. Emovbira was later arrested by the SSS, acting on the CBN’s orders, accusing him of selling foreign currency without authorization. He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 1986 but managed to escape in 1989.
Despite a presidential pardon, attempts to retrieve his money from the Nigerian government failed. Mr. Emovbira urged President Bola Tinubu to intervene and direct the CBN to release the funds, which he intends to use for improving health and education in Nigeria.