Abacha loot: Two arrested in UK over £20m

by ‘Jola Sotubo

Photo credit: Leadership
Photo credit: Leadership

Years after his demise, the name of former Nigerian military ruler,Sani Abacha, is still causing controversy around the globe.

Efforts have been made to trace the funds reportedly embezzled by the late dictator and those efforts have extended to the United kingdom.

Investigations have uncovered another £20m(N5.12billion) reportedly laundered by Abacha through some lawyers in Britain. Two suspects, including a former Attorney-General of Kogi State, have been arrested in London in connection with the loot

According to reports, the two suspects, who were trying to convert a 1994 CBN Traveller’s Cheque worth £2,000 at Travelex are undergoing interrogation in London. Upon a search in the suspects’ hotel in London, it was gathered, about £78,000 traveller’s cheque was found on them.

There were indications that the UK Police may invoke the Mutual Legal Assistance to seek the extradition of Mohammed Sanni, who is allegedly linked to the probe.

A source said: “The arrest of two Nigerian suspects (including a former Attorney-General of Kogi State) has triggered the latest round of investigation.

“With the £20million loot in their care, they decided to test the waters with £80,000. So, the two suspects took £2,000 worth of Traveller’s Cheques purchased by the CBN in 1994 to Travelex to get some cash but the desk officers were suspicious because of the time frame.

“The attendants alerted security agencies who arrested the suspects and later searched their hotel rooms where additional £78,000 worth of traveler’s cheques were found.

“The security agencies are working on the suspicion that the suspects were on a laundering mission in the UK as part of moves to repatriate the alleged £20million stashed by the late Head of State.” The Press Bureau of the Metropolitan Police last night said: “We have contacted officers to get any details of this incident. We will reply in due course as and when we have them.” The Abachas were alleged to have laundered about $3billion cash. The Federal Government has so far recovered more than $2.550billion. The government is trying to trace the whereabouts of $450million hidden in many countries.

A Federal Government counsel on repatriation of Abacha loot, Mr. Tim Daniel, had said about $2.550billion of $3billion had been so far recovered by the Federal Government from the late Abacha’s accounts and his family.

He gave the breakdown as follows: voluntary surrender ($750m); Switzerland ($570m); Jersey ($380m); UK($150m); Luxembourg ($300m); and Liechtenstein ($400m).

A few months after the 13th year anniversary of Abacha’s death, the Federal Government recovered£22.5m (N6.18billion) loot which the late Head of State, allegedly stashed in Jersey. The £20million being investigated is alleged to be part of the outstanding $450million.

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