Nigeria, Switzerland Sign Agreement To Return N64bn Abacha Loot

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Sani-Abacha

Nigeria and Switzerland on Tuesday announced an agreement to return $321 million (N64 billion) in public funds stolen by the former military ruler Sani Abacha.

The agreement came after a meeting in Abuja between Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and a Swiss delegation including the country’s foreign minister and ambassador.

Both countries said the “letter of intent” to return the money provided a framework to help recover other looted funds by corrupt officials and to determine how it would be spent once repatriated.

“We guarantee that recovered assets would be put to uses for which they have been intended,” Osinbajo said in a statement.

“The framework will guarantee that returned assets will be used in the interest of the people of this country.”

The head of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter, said Switzerland was the first country to have returned a share of Abacha’s ill-gotten wealth, estimated at $2.2 billion.

Ten years ago, some $720 million was returned to Nigeria, he said in a statement on the Swiss foreign affairs website.

The $321 million was initially deposited in Luxembourg but confiscated by a court in Geneva in December 2014.

Burkhalter said the fight against corruption was “one of Switzerland’s priorities” and the letter of intent “confirmed the principle of returning stolen assets monitored by the World Bank.

“This monitoring is a legal requirement to ensure that the funds can indeed be returned to Nigeria and used, as set out in the agreement, to support social programmes to assist the people of Nigeria,” he added.

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