$752m returned in 2005 (Obasanjo era)
$322m returned in 2018 (Buhari era)
Switzerland seems suspicious of the use of what is called Abacha Loot, saying it required assurances that the funds would not be diverted. For this, the country has involved the World Bank in monitoring the return of another tranche of over $322m in 2018. The previous huge chunk of over $752m was returned in Olusegun Obasanjo era.
Switzerland says it no longer holds any of loots of the late military head of state, Gen Sani Abacha, saying the country has so far returned $1.74Bn.
Swiss Ambassador Eric Mayoraz revealed this in Abuja. He spoke spoke at the Forum on Asset Recovery hosted by the Swiss Embassy. Th forum discussed return of assets and iissues around the Abacha loot between the two countries.
The ambassador said: “All funds hidden in Swiss banks by Abacha was fully repatriated and so we don’t have any of such fund in Switzerland again”.
His breakdown shows that “$752m was returned in 2005 (when Olusegun Obasanjo was in power) and we discovered more and more in other banks and that involved the $322.5m that was repatriated earlier this year.”
He explained that the ongoing efforts were geared towards getting a positive result in line with the Mutual Legal Persistence Request agreement signed between the two countries.
Decrying what he termed lack of transparency in the Nigerian government’s handling of the funds, Mayoraz said the Swiss government insisted on the involvement of the World Bank in the management of the $322.5m to ensure that money was spent to alleviate the sufferings of the poor.
“Unfortunately, some of the assets that were returned, there was not so much transparency in it. So, we have to introduce the World Bank to get involved in this so that this particular one can be used by the Nigerian government with the monitoring of the World Bank”.
On her part, Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform, Mrs. Juliet Ibebaku-Nwagwu, said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has done a lot to engender the confidence of the Swiss government and other partners that the recovered assets would be deployed judiciously and transparently in line with the agreements reached.
She said the money would be deployed to service the Social Investment Scheme which is also an existing World Bank project.
“Let me just say this, we just want our money back. By this administration’s commitment to open government partnership, we want the people to be involved in the monitoring of the stolen assets that were returned. We also came up with the open budget process so that Nigerians would know every budget details and they can be checked online too.”