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Tuesday, 5 May 2020

ABACHA LOOT: See Amount Recovered So Far

US Lawmakers kick against returning Abacha's $320 million loot to Nigeria
Even though he is no more, General Sani Abacha has been humorously described as one of the ancestors of Nigeria who has been donating money generously to successive governments from the land of the dead as his loot was outrageous. Sunday Vanguard captures the looted funds:

He’s a man of multiple impressions. To some people, he was an enigma. To others, he was humane. But to many, he was simply a mean dictator and the man who wore the thickest goggles in town. Yet, some quarters preferred him as a consummate soldier, leader par excellence, trailblazer, stabilizer and strategist.


THE MAN ABACHA
That was the late General Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s former Head of State between 1993 and 1998.
The name ‘Abacha’ resonates across Nigeria. He rose through the military ladder to the top echelon.
On December 31, 1983, when the army removed then President Shehu Shagari from power to give way for Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Abacha announced the power takeover. He also co-announced the coming of the Babangida regime with Gen. Joshua Dogoyaro and it was in that regime that he served as the chief of the army staff.
On November 17, 1993, Abacha took the reins of power after sacking the Shonekan interim administration where he served as Defence Minister. From that day to June 7, 1998, Abacha reigned supreme and maximally. Since he died, however, his name has continued to resonate for mostly the wrong reasons of corruption, fraud and financial embezzlement.

WHAT IS THE ESTIMATED LOOT
Many believe that his regime encouraged corruption by stashing away illicit funds in foreign bank accounts. One huge surprise about the saga, however, is that it’s been 22 years since Abacha passed on, yet government after government have continued to talk about Abacha loot. Though it may be difficult to place a hand on the figure stolen and hidden in many offshore accounts, Transparency International once said Abacha may have stolen up to $5bn between 1993 when he assumed office and 1998 when he died. Of this amount, successive governments made recoveries.
Recall that there have been one military leader and four civilian Presidents since the passage of the maximum ruler: General Abdulsalami Abubakar from June 8, 1999, to May 29, 1999.
President Olusegun Obasanjo from May 29, 1999, to May 29, 2007.
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua from May 29, 2007, to May 6, 2010
President Goodluck Jonathan from May 6, 2010, to May 29, 2015, and
President Muhammad Buhari who assumed on May 29 till date.

Significantly, in 2014, the Abacha family entered into an agreement, forfeiting several billions of dollars to the Federal Government, following plea bargaining to drop charges against the late military ruler’s son.

AMOUNT RECOVERED SO FAR
The recovered monies were principally stashed away in four major countries: Switzerland, Jersey Island in the United Kingdom, United States and Liechtenstein.

* During the Abdulsalami era in 1999, $750 million was recovered.

* Under the Obasanjo administration, $1.2 billion was recovered in 2002; $149 million from Jersey Island, the UK in 2003; $500 million recovered " In 2004 from Switzerland and another $458 recovered.
In 2005 from Switzerland.

* During the Jonathan administration, $1 billion was recovered in 2012 and $380 million in 2015, both tranches from Switzerland.
The Jonathan administration also recovered $227 million from Liechtenstein.
In 2014 and $48 million from the United States the same year

* The government of Buhari government recovered $322 million from Switzerland in 2017, $308 million from Jersey Island, the United Kingdom in February 2020 and $311.7 million from Jersey, the United States of America in May 2020 which is the most current.

All put together, amounting to over $5.6 billion

BOTTOM LINE: No one can actually tell the exact amount that was looted by the military head of state.
Perhaps there are more looted funds still out there going by the frequency of recoveries by the federal authorities. In that regard, a member of the House of Representatives, Salam Bamidele, said: “I believe that we may not have really gone halfway in digging some of those monies stashed away in foreign accounts by the late Gen. Sani Abacha and maybe some people who were close to him”.

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