Femi Falana: US, Switzerland don’t want to return Abacha loot to #Nigeria

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the governments of the United States and Switzerland are frustrating the return of the looted funds stashed in their countries by late Sani Abacha, a former military ruler.

Falana said this in a piece entitled ‘The immoral and illegal frustration of the repatriation of the remaining Abacha loot by the governments of United States and Switzerland’.

“Apart from describing Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt’, Mr. David Cameron did not accede to the request of President Buhari to recover and repatriate the looted wealth of Nigeria, which has been located in the United Kingdom,” Falana said.

“In spite of several assurances, the United States Government has continued to frustrate the legal proceedings filed by Nigeria in Jersey, United Kingdom, for the recovery and repatriation of the remaining Abacha loot.

“On its own part the Swiss Government has imposed a conditionality before repatriating the sum of $321 million in its custody to Nigeria.?”

According to the former president of the West African Bar Association (WABA), court processes initiated by the Nigerian government in US courts have been objected to by the American government.

“The Federal Republic of Nigeria had adopted various routes and strategies to freeze, recover and repatriate to Nigeria the proceeds of corruption amassed by a former military ruler, the late General Sani Abacha and his associates.

“In particular, legal proceedings have been filed in many courts, including a criminal complaint in Switzerland and requests for mutual legal assistance to various European nations. Others include claims in England (both in the Commercial Court and the Chancery Division) directly against inter alias Mohammed Sani Abacha (“Abacha”) and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (“Bagudu”), together with companies associated with them, including Doraville Property Corporation (“Doraville”).

“I understand that it is suggested by the USA that the FRN is estopped from bringing proceedings against Doraville in Jersey to recover the proceeds of the fraud, because the FRN made the MLA Request, and because the FRN assisted in facilitating the service of the US proceedings upon Mohammed Sani Abacha and Bagudu.

“I do not understand this suggestion. As I have indicated above, the whole point of the MLA Request was to secure the recovery of monies for the FRN. It appears that the USA now however does not intend to abide by the spirit of the request, and instead intends itself to apply any monies recovered by it as it alone sees fit. In the absence of a common understanding between the FRN and the USA as to what should happen to the monies recovered in the Doraville proceedings, no estoppel can exist.

“The FRN is bringing proceedings in Jersey against Doraville to establish the FRN’s status as the party which has been defrauded of these monies, and therefore the party with a paramount proprietary interest in them.  There is nothing artificial or underhand about these proceedings.  What the FRN is seeking to achieve is establish as clearly as possible its own interest in these monies. It is the frivolous objection of the USA which has prevented the Court from ordering the repatriation of the fund to Nigeria.”

Falana urged President Barack Obama to ensure that the frivolous objections filed in the recovery proceedings in the High Court in Jersey by the US are withdrawn before the end of his term of office on January 20, 2017.

He also implored the the Government of Switzerland to repatriate the sum of $321 million of the Abacha loot to Nigeria without any further delay.

Abacha Loot: FG Wins Case As Malami Heads To U.S. Next Week For Repatriation

The Federal Government has won the case to have the country’s money looted by ex-head of state, Sani Abacha repatriated from the United State of America where the fund has been stashed.

This is equally as the Attorney-General, Malami is billed to visit US next week for the fund’s repatriation. This was disclosed, Friday, by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

Shehu was reacting to some claims making the rounds that President Buhari had donated USD 500 million to Democratic Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the recently held Presidential elections in U.S which saw the Republican Donald Trump emerge the President-elect.

According to Shehu, Nigeria has no such money to throw around and even if it does have, President Buhari who has zero tolerance for waste cannot do such unjustifiable act. “What is the craziest accusation made against President Buhari?”

“That he donated USD 500 million to Hillary’s campaign and that Donald Trump is angry. This has gone viral, sadly Nigerians are believing it!”

“President Buhari’s Nigeria doesn’t have this kind of money to throw around. Even if the money is there, this President is the least likely person to give it as donation, and for what?”

“As we speak, President Buhari is concluding agreements with the U.S. to return our stolen money in their banks. A FGN account has already been given for the return of one million Dollars from Alamisiegha.”

“Judgement on the USD 480 million Abacha loot has been won and our Attorney-General, Malami (SAN) will be in the US next week to speak to the Department of Justice, USDOJ on the next steps for the return of that as well.”



Abacha Loot: World Bank Seeks More Time To Give Details

The World Bank has again asked for more time to release details on the spending of recovered loot by late General Sani Abacha. This followed the bank’s decision to refer “portion of appeal by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to the Bank Archives Unit for processing for public access.”

In a letter dated 8 August 2016 and sent to SERAP, the World Bank said, “In response to your request under AI4288, we would like to inform you that we are working on your request as referred to the Archives by the Access to Information Committee in its decision on the appeal and need additional time to provide a more comprehensive response. We regret any inconvenience for this delay.”

This development was disclosed today in a statement by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni. The World Bank’s request for more time followed the appeal SERAP lodged with the Bank on 5 February 2016 on the ground that the Bank’s decision on its initial request did not reveal “important portions of the information requested on how Abacha loot was spent.”

This is the second time the World Bank is asking for additional time to provide SERAP with details of spending of Abacha loot. It would be recalled that the bank in a letter dated 15 October 2015 and signed by Ann May of the Access to Information Team said that “In response to your request under AI3982, we would like to inform you that we are still considering your request and need additional time to provide you with a more comprehensive response.”

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Switzerland Pledges To Repatriate $321m Abacha Loot

The government of Switzerland has said it would soon return $321 million looted by late head of state, General Sani Abacha and kept in Swiss banks, as part of its commitment to fighting money laundering and other trans-national crimes in that country.

The Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Eric Mayoraz, made the disclosure yesterday, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Legal Assistance on criminal matters, between the Swiss government and the Federal Government of Nigeria in Abuja.

The ambassador stated that the MoU was aimed at fostering understanding between the two countries particularly as it relates to their different legal system.

He said: “We are now in the process of repatriating $321m from the second batch of the Abacha loot”, adding that the country had in 2005 repatriated $722m in the first batch.

Mayoraz said: “Today’s event is significant in the sense that it would eradicate every bottleneck associated with the repatriation of stolen funds starched in our country.

“Our countries enjoy excel- lent relations and we cooperate as partners in many fields, on the return of looted assets, migration, human rights, humanitarian assistance and many others.

“Today, we decided to take

this cooperation forward to deepen it in the field of judicial cooperation. By signing a Memorandum of Understanding in this important area, our two states further strengthen their ties of friendship and cooperation.”

While stating that fighting international crime, in particular corruption, is an important issue also for the Swiss government as the MoU provides for a settle foundation to improve cooperation, the envoy added that it has the advantage of bringing direct contact through central authorities as well.

“The text we will now sign marks the starting point of a new era in our common fight against international crime. People, goods and money move around easily in today’s world. That is generally a positive thing. Unfortunately, this mobility is not limited to honest people and clean money. Criminals and proceeds of crime profit from it, as well. States must thus cooperate in order to fight transnational organized crime, corruption, money laundering, the drug trade”, he said.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajia Abba Ibrahim, disclosed that the idea of signing the MoU was first muted in 2015. She stated that the agreement would help block accounts of funds linked to money laundering and other trans-national crimes.

Ibrahim commended the Swiss government for supporting Nigeria’s fight against corruption, noting that repatriated funds can help facilitate essential development in Nigeria.

She assured the ambassador of the commitment of the Buhari’s administration towards the improvement of the living standards of Nigerians, and pledged the nation’s commitment in deepening relations between Nigeria and Switzerland.

Credit: Thisday

SERAP Appeals World Bank’s Decision To Hide Information On Abacha Loot Spending

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an appeal over the decision of the World Bank to provide insufficient information on how the government of Nigeria spent the recovered stolen funds by the late General Sani  Abacha.


In the appeal by SERAP to the Access to Information (AI) Appeals Board on the bank’s decision dated November 25, 2015, it requested the board to exercise its prerogative and allow disclosure of specific information and any feedback from the World Bank Evaluation Team on the several issues, including the “evidence and list of the 23 projects allegedly completed with recovered Abacha loot, and whether the projects were actually completed; and what became of the two abandoned projects.”


In a statement by SERAP Deputy Executive Director, Olukayode Majekodunmi, the body complained that the World Bank failed to disclose sufficient information on the spending of recovered stolen funds by the government. To this end, it urged the AIAB to prevail on the bank to provide evidence and the location of the eight health centres built with recovered Abacha loot reviewed by the World Bank as well as the  evidence and location of the 18 power projects confirmed by the World Bank. SERAP also urged the Appeal Board to direct the bank to state “how the $50 million Abacha loot received before 2005 kept in the special account was spent,” and “evidence and location of schools which benefited from the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme in the amount of N24.25 billion.”


It also prayed the Appeal Board to request for “evidence and location of the 13 road projects completed with the recovered Abacha loot, including the names of three of the largest road and bridge projects in each geo-political zone” as claimed by the bank. SERAP noted it “considered the decision of the World Bank a serious violation of the AI Policy, as it amounts to improper or unreasonable restriction of access to information.”


In the appeal, dated February 5, 2016, and signed by SERAP deputy executive director, it said: “Following receipt of several documents from the World Bank totalling over 700 pages on the Abacha loot, SERAP commenced independent investigations and verification of some of the information supplied with appropriate agencies and institutions of government. “SERAP is concerned that the World Bank failed and/or neglected to provide several portions of the information  requested on the spending of recovered Abacha loot managed by the bank.” It noted that one of the guiding principles of the Policy on Access to Information (AI Policy) was recognizing the right to an appeals process when a request for information in the World Bank’s possession was improperly or unreasonably denied.


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FG Targets N150bn Abacha, Ibori Loots

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, on Tuesday, disclosed plans by the Federal Government to engage acclaimed consultants in its bid to recover another $750m looted and stashed away by a former Head of State, the late Gen. Sani Abacha.



He stated that another £6.9m loot, held by a former Governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori, would also be recovered.



The minister, who spoke on the government’s plans when he met with the House of Representatives Committee on Justice, added that the country’s judgment debts stood at N75bn.



The federal government will appoint a foreign lawyer in its effort to recover a total of N150 billion stashed abroad by late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha and former Delta state governor, James Ibori.

Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami announced this in Abuja yesterday while testifying before the House of Representatives committee on Justice.


He said the money was made up N148. Billion ($750 million) allegedly laundered by Abacha and N1. 98 billion (£6.9 million) by Ibori.

Malami said the government would “engage in an aggressive policy” to seek the cooperation of foreign governments to “ensure the repatriation of illicitly-acquired assets.”



According to him, “The collaboration will equally involve the engagement of foreign-based counsel to attend to the matters on behalf of the Federal Government.


“Low-hanging fruits being targeted in this initiative include $750m of the ‘Abacha Loot’ as well as the sum of GBP6.9m of the ‘Ibori loot.’”

The ministry would be in the position to coordinate the recovery of billions of dollars in foreign jurisdictions based on current estimations, he said.

Late Abacha, who ruled Nigeria between 1993 and 1998, allegedly laundered about $5 billion abroad, according to Transparency International.

Liechtenstein agreed to return $227 million in June 2014, while the U.S. froze some $458m hidden by Abacha in bank accounts. Switzerland had in the past returned about $700 million and promised to return another $380m.



The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in August, 2014, that it would repatriate about $480 million to Nigeria.


Part of the returned funds budgeted for purchase of arms was allegedly diverted by top officials of the immediate past administration, which resulted in the ongoing arms probe, involving former National Security Adviser (NSA) Rtd Col Sambo Dasuki and top military officers.


Some European countries like Britain have now set conditions for the return of stolen funds to Nigeria.

As for former Delta State governor, Ibori, (1999 to 2007), who is currently serving a jail term in the United Kingdom for money laundering, he is said to have helped himself with public funds to the tune of over £30 million among others.


Only last week, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the return of stolen Nigerian funds moved to that county.

He said, the ministry would rely on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 (ACJA) and the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2013 to ensure expeditious prosecution of those accused of terrorism.


He said based on the criminal justice law, the ministry had so far recovered 8,000 files from the Nigeria Police to be prosecuted by the ministry’s in-house lawyers.

He added that the ministry was currently processing about 800 terrorism cases for prosecution, saying the funds required for the successful prosecution of the cases as well as the general coordination of the criminal justice sector “were fully captured” in the ministry’s budget proposal.

He said the ministry would remain committed to the promotion and defence of constitutional values and principles in governance.


On the ministry’s 2016 budget proposal, he said the ministry needed an additional N960.888 million for harmonization of salaries of state counsel in order to bring them relatively at par with their counterparts in states’ ministries of justice and other institutions within the justice sector.


To this end, he said, provision of N300,000 was made as annual ‘robe allowance’ to each state counsel in line with practice.



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Switzerland To Transfer Another $300 Million Abacha Loot To Nigeria– Minister

The government of Switzerland is prepared to transfer to the Nigerian government, another $300 million recovered from the family of former military ruler, Sani Abacha, foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, announced Monday.

The money is part of an estimated $5 billion stolen and stashed in foreign accounts by the late dictator.

Nigeria has in the last 10 years received over $1 billion from the Swiss and American governments, but there are growing concerns past administrations misused the huge sum.

Credit: PremiumTimes

Apologize For Illegally Transferring $322milion Abacha Loot To Dasuki, SERAP Tells Okonjo-Iweala

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked a former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to “apologize to Nigerians for claiming recently that recovered Abacha loot was transparently spent while she knew that $322m (about N63billion) recovered Abacha funds were inappropriately released to finance the fight against Boko Haram.”

SERAP’s statement Thursday followed Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s confession that she released about $322m to the former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki for military operations.

In a statement by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP said, “The truth about the spending of Abacha loot is now coming out, and it is clear that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala was wrong to accuse SERAP of bias while she knew that we are simply seeking truth, justice and accountability on the spending of recovered Abacha loot.”

“Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s approach of ‘no answers, no apology’ on how Abacha loot was spent is doing her reputation more harm than good. We hope that she will take cue from the World Bank (her former employer) when it defined ‘accountability and probity’ as knowing what task has been set, accepting to do it, and going about it with a sense of probity.

“Probity implying the willingness to self-disclose such information to which a specific stakeholder group has a right as well as tolerance of the scrutiny of such a stakeholder group on information to which they have a right,” the organization said.

“We therefore urge her to now come out for the sake of millions of Nigerians living in extreme poverty but also of generations as yet unborn and tell Nigerians the whole story about what exactly happened to recovered Abacha loot, as well as publicly apologize for claiming that Abacha loot was transparently spent. She should be willing to be held to account,” the organization added.

Credit: PremiumTimes

Okonjo-Iweala Dismisses Allegations On Abacha Loot

Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has dismissed allegations that she illegally authorized the diversion of recently recovered Abacha loot during the administration of former president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala described the allegation as “part of a campaign of falsehood” to “tarnish her image” in a statement on Wednesday by her media adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu.

The former minister noted that the contents of a memo dated January 20, 2015 in which she responded to a request by the former National Security Adviser, Col Ibrahim Dasuki (retired) for funds to prosecute the war against Boko Haram, was “distorted”.

To set the records straight, the statement maintained that “the central responsibility of the Minister of Finance is to find sources of funding for the financing of approved national priorities such as security, job creation and infrastructure”.

The statement also “recalled that throughout 2014, there were public complaints by the military hierarchy to President Goodluck Jonathan about the inadequacy of funds to fight the anti-terror war in the North East, resulting in Boko Haram making gains and even taking territories. A lot of the criticism was directed at the Federal Ministry of Finance under Dr Okonjo-Iweala which was accused of not doing enough to find funds for the operations.

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Report Accuses Okonjo-Iweala For Illegally Approving Sum From Abacha Loot To Dasuki Few Weeks Before Presidential Election

The immediate past Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, illegally approved the transfer of at least N61.4 billion ($300 million and £5.5 million) from funds recovered from late dictator, Sani Abacha, to the Office of the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, few weeks to the 2015 presidential election, Premium Times report.

The former Minister signed off on the transfer but then closed her eyes to how the funds were spent, requesting then President Goodluck Jonathan to directly demand accountability from Mr. Dasuki, according to documents seen by this newspaper.

The funds were never appropriated before they were transferred, a clear violation of Nigeria’s fiscal responsibility law.

Mr. Dasuki, alongside the former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa and founder of DAAR communications, owners of Africa Independent Television and Raypower radio network, Raymond Dokpesi, are being investigated for their roles in the disbursement of $2.1 billion and N643 billion meant for the procurement of arms to fight the raging insurgency in Nigeria’s north east region.

The recovered Abacha loot are funds returned to the Nigerian government from monies stolen from the country’s treasury by Mr. Abacha.

It is not clear whether these funds in question were part of the arms procurement funds for which Mr Dasuki is being investigated.

But a letter signed by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, seen by Premium Times, showed that 50 per cent of the recently recovered Abacha loot was allotted for “urgent security need” such as the procurement of arms and ammunition while the other half was set aside to be used for development purposes.

The letter, dated January 20, 2015, which was addressed to Mr Jonathan revealed that the money was transferred following a January 12, 2015 request by the office of the NSA under Mr Dasuki for funds for the procurement of arms and ammunition as well as intelligence equipment.

“Please find a request by the National Security Adviser (NSA) for the transfer of $300 million and £5.5 million of the recovered Abacha funds to an ONSA [Office of the National Security Adviser] operations account,” the letter read.

Credit: PremiumTimes

World Bank Wants More Time To Compile Information On Abacha Loot

The World Bank says it needs additional time to provide comprehensive information on the spending of recovered funds looted by the late Nigerian Head of State, Sani Abacha.

The World Bank told the human rights group seeking information on the loot, which is about seven billion dollars, that for now it is compiling information on the spending.

According to the World Bank “In response to your request, we would like to inform you that we are still considering your request and we will need additional time because the money involved is too huge for us to handle.”

The World Bank said that although it takes just 20 working days to respond to such requests, under special cases it could take much longer time.

The loot stolen by the former military ruler from 1993 to 1998 is estimated to be worth 11.3 billion dollars.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, had written to the World Bank demanding information on the spending of the loot recovered from the late military dictator, General Sani Abacha.

The World Bank acknowledged the request and asked for more time to be able to supply comprehensive information on how the recovered Abacha loot was spent.

Credit: ChannelsTV