Nigeria welcomes repatriation of $321m by Switzerland

Timothy Choji, Abuja

The Nigerian and Swiss Governments have initiated moves to return $321m stolen funds from Nigeria under the Abacha government.

The two countries have already signed the letter of intent, a framework that will aid the repatriation of the funds stashed in Switzerland.

Nigeria’s Vice President, Profesor Yemi Osinbajo, welcomed the development, when he hosted a meeting with a Swiss delegation led by the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Didier Burkhacter, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Judicious Use

He stated that the framework being developed would ensure that the funds, when returned, would be judiciously used.

“We guarantee that recovered assets would be put to uses for which they had been intended. The framework will guarantee that all returned assets will be used in the interest of the people of this country. To ensure this, government has already included anticipated funds in the proposed 2016 Budget from the recovery effort on the funding side,” the Vice President said.

Professor Osinbajo said the framework once finalised will be made available publicly, and it would cover the whole spectrum from the source of the stolen asset to how it would be managed once recovered.

Commending the Swiss government on its assistance in repatriating the country’s stolen assets, the Vice President said the Nigerian government appreciates the Swiss government for their very laudable efforts, noting that the “Swiss has always been at the forefront of returning stolen assets and ensuring that the people of Nigeria gets the benefit.”

Letter of Intent

PIC  SIGNING  OF AGEEMENT FOR THE  REPARTRIAT OF NIGERIA   LOOTED FUNDS (640x419)Speaking to Journalists after signing the accord on behalf of Nigeria, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, described the Letter of Intent between Nigeria and the Swiss government as a milestone.

He then thanked the Swiss government for the tremendous support it has given to persons displaced by the insurgency in the North-East.

“The signing of the letter of intent is a great milestone in our effort to recover the looted funds that found their way to Switzerland. This is the beginning of great things to come. We pledge to make judicious use of the funds when recovered. We thank Switzerland for the help it has been rendering to the internally Displace d Persons in the North—East,” he said.

For his side, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Didier Burkhacter, who also signed on behalf of his country, said the move was an important step towards repatriating the money and also cements the relationship between the two countries.

He said: “under the agreement, the Swiss government will award to Nigeria $321m of the funds illicitly acquired by the Abacha family, initially deposited in Luxembourg and confiscated by the Judiciary of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, pursuant to a forfeiture order dated 11th December 2014.”