Nigeria, Switzerland sign letter of intent for repatriation of $321m Abacha loot

Sani-Abacha_2843910bNigeria and Switzerland on Tuesday in Abuja signed a letter of intent for the repatriation of illicit assets, including the 321 dollars million allegedly stashed in Swiss banks by late Gen. Sani Abacha. Late Sani Abacha Mr. Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, signed on behalf of Nigeria while the Swiss Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Didier Burkhalter, signed for his home country. A brief discussion between Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Burkhalter preceded the event which took place at the vice president’s conference room with Swiss Ambassador. Eric Mayoraz and his Chief of Staff, Damien Cottier in attendance as witnesses. The Swiss minister told State House Correspondents at the end of ceremony that the event was a milestone in the effort to complete the return of the late Abacha’s illegally acquired funds stashed in his country. “We are confident that we can work together in order to make a new point and step in fighting corruption. “The fight against corruption is a priority of our government and it is important to work together in order to restitute the money that has been stolen to the population. “Switzerland and Nigeria have already written the history 10 years ago with the restitution of 700 million dollars of the Abacha funds. “Today, it is another amount of 321 million dollars that can be restituted. “We are at the end of the process but it is very important now to make everything right and above all to organise a monitoring mechanism by the World Bank for the use of these stolen assets. “And then, there will be a restitution and it will be and can be swift, transparent and can be at the end for the good of the population.’’ According to Burkhalter, it is important to show a common will by Nigeria and Switzerland by the signing of this letter of intent to go that way and to move ahead. He said that there was a legal requirement in the decision of the prosecutor in Switzerland to ensure judicious use of the money when repatriated. “There is the necessity of a monitoring mechanism by the World Bank and it is also necessary to have good projects in social way. “ For instance, there could be the initiative to save one million lives. “If we have this mechanism by the World Bank for monitoring and the good project to the good of the population, then the money will be restituted.’’ Burkhalter said he was not aware of any other funds illegally kept in his country besides the Abacha loot. In his remarks, Malami said the essence of the signing was to communicate to the world and Nigerians. “The intendment arising from the signing of the letter of intent is to communicate to the world and the Nigerian state in this regard, that the intention is there and the commitment is there and the fund is going to be repatriated as quickly and as soon as possible.’’ On the significance of the event, Malami said it was to send a clear message to the people that the Buhari administration was working hard to recover all looted funds. “The message is clear that this government is up and doing as far as the repatriation of looted funds wherever they are located, wherever they are situated in the globe is concerned. “The government has the desired commitment, has the desired political will, has the desired cooperation and has put in place the desired road map for the recovery of the looted fund.’’

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