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Ripples over $500m Abacha’s loot

Controversy has emerged over the $500 million recovered from the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s family as report indicates that the money was diverted.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is said to be probing the location of the money which was recovered from the family of the late Head of State during ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Late Sani Abacha

The cash, report says, was repatriated from slush accounts of Abacha in foreign banks after hard negotiations by the Federal government.

Indication have emerged that the $500 million was diverted.

According to the Nation, “Of the $500 million, about $250 million was released to the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) during the tenure of Col. Sambo Dasuki without appropriation. The balance of $250 million cannot be traced yet’’.

The sum of $250 million was illegally withdrawn barely two months to the end of Jonathan’s administration in 2015.

Aside the controversial $500 million, another $550 million recovered from the Abacha family may have been lost to the United States.

Prof. Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), had reported that, “Nigeria stands to lose another S550 million recovered from the Abacha family to the U.S., contrary to the earlier promise by the U.S. to return same to Nigeria”.

 

Sagay said the amount represented a separate tranche from the earlier $480 million forfeited to the U.S. following a court judgment in August 2014.

He said that the stringent conditions for repatriation being given by the countries in which some of the nation’s stolen wealth was stashed contradicted the earlier promises made.

According to Sagay, the challenges include stringent conditions and other uncooperative attitude of the countries in possession of the stolen funds.

“Out of the Abacha loot for instance, Switzerland seized over $505.5 million between 2004 and 2006.

Nigeria also signed a Memorandum of understanding ( MOU) with Switzerland for the return of $321 million in looted funds to Nigeria.

Nigeria’s minister of justice and attorney general, Mr Abubakar Malami, signed the MOU with Swiss authorities  in Zurich.

He expressed gratitude for the international support Nigeria was getting in the fight against corruption.

Global collaboration, he said was critical to the success of the fight.

He explained that Nigeria was one of the four countries being prioritized for Asset Recovery assistance at the maiden edition of the Global Forum on Assets Recovery in the U.S.

Transparency International, a corruption watchdog, said Abacha stole up to $5 billion of public money during the five years he ran the country, from 1993 until his death in 1998.

In 2014, Nigeria and the Abacha family reached an agreement for the Nigeria to get back the funds, which had been frozen, in return for dropping a complaint against the former military ruler’s son, Abba Abacha.

The son was charged by a Swiss court with money-laundering, fraud and forgery in April 2005, after being extradited from Germany, and later spent 561 days in custody.

In 2006, Luxembourg ordered that funds held by the younger Abacha be frozen.

 


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