$321m Abacha loot to be returned to Nigeria

A delegation led by the Switzerland Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter, are expected to have a meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbaj and the Nigerian Minister on Foreign AFfairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Tuesday.

According to Premium Times, the meeting would be centered on how to repatriate another $321 million looted by late Military Head of State, Sani Abacha, and seized by the Swiss government.

Pascal Holliger, an official at the Switzerland embassy in Nigeria, who confirmed the meeting, however, stated that:

“Yes, 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.”

Some civil society and anti-corruption groups, who heard about the impending meeting, wrote to the presidency requesting that the money should be put to good use if returned.

The petition, which was titled: “Restitution of Abacha funds: Swiss and Nigerian NGOs demand guarantees,” was forwarded to the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, Minister of foreign affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

Also copied in the petition are: World Bank Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, and the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs Office for International Public Law (DDIP) in Berne, Switzerland.

The petition reads in part that:

“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 also noted that the agreement reached between the federal government and the Abacha family in 2014, wherein government promised not to criminally prosecute any member of the Abacha family if the money was returned, was a source of fear.

Subsequently, all criminal charges against Mohammed Abacha, the eldest son of Sani Abacha, was dropped by the Switzerland public prosecutor after the agreement with the Abacha family.

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