Abacha Loot: Swiss Delegation Expected In Nigeria To Hold Talks On Return Of Fresh $321m

Source: thewillnigeria.com

BEVERLY HILLS, March 08, (THEWILL) – Nigeria may be about to recover another tranche of the funds stolen by late Head of State, Sani Abacha, as a delegation from the Swiss government led by that country's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter, is expected in the country to discuss the repatriation of the looted funds with their Nigerian counterparts.

The representatives are billed to meet with the Nigerian Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, over the return of the $321m seized from the family of the late maximum ruler.

Disclosing this to Premium Times, an official of the Swiss Embassy in Nigeria, Pascal Holliger said: “Our foreign Minister is on his way to Nigeria on Tuesday. He is coming on a working visit to Nigeria. During the visit, he would open the Consular General's office in Lagos and meet with the Vice President of Nigeria and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to discuss the issue of the repatriation of the second tranche of the Abacha loot.”

But on getting to know of the impending visit, some Swiss and Nigerian civil society groups dispatched a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari demanding that his government guarantees that the $321m to be returned to Nigeria by the Swiss government would be put to good use, and not looted again.

Copies of the petition titled “Restitution of Abacha funds: Swiss and Nigerian NGOs demand guarantees,” was sent to the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, her Foreign Affairs counterpart, Onyeama, and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

A copy of the petition obtained by the online newspaper was also sent to the World Bank Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, and the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs Office for International Public Law, DDIP, in Berne, Switzerland.

Signed by representatives of eight civil society groups, the petitioners expressed concerns that the fund could disappear just like the repatriated funds by the government of Liechtenstein in 2014 if government did not take steps to guarantee transparency and accountability.

“Swiss and Nigerian NGOs demand that the authorities of these two countries, together with the World Bank, take all measures necessary to guarantee that these funds be returned in a manner that is transparent and benefits the general population of the country, the people that were initially cheated out of their money,” the petition read.

The groups explained that their fears stem from the confidential agreement reached between the Nigerian government and the Abacha family in 2014, in which the Nigerian government agreed not to prosecute any member of the family in lieu of the returned loot. The agreement was said to have received the backing of Geneva's public prosecutor, leading to the withdrawal of all criminal charges against the eldest son of the late dictator, Mohammed, allegedly implicated in a case of laundering funds stolen by his father.