Nigeria is pleased with the offer by the Swiss government to return $321 million, part of the funds looted by Nigeria’s worst dictator, General Sani Abacha, who died in power in 1998, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Tuesday.
Mr. Osinbajo, who turned 59 same day, said the federal government is currently developing a framework to aid the repatriation of money stolen from Nigerian coffers.
He was speaking at the Presidential Villa in Abuja during a meeting with a Swiss delegation led by the country’s Federal Councillor and Head of its Foreign Affairs Department, Mr. Didier Burkhalter and the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Eric Mayoruz.
“We guarantee that recovered assets would be put to uses for which they have been intended,” Mr. Osinbajo said.
He said once the framework is finalised, it will be a public document that would cover “the whole spectrum from the source of the stolen assets to how it would be managed once recovered”.
“The framework will guarantee that returned assets will be used in the interest of the people of this country.”
To ensure this, in the proposed 2016 Budget, the federal government has already included anticipated funds from the recovery effort on the funding side, he said.
The Vice President said the federal government appreciates the Swiss government for their very laudable efforts and noted that the “Swiss has always been at the forefront of returning stolen assets and ensuring that the people of Nigeria gets the benefit.”
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Mr. Abubakar Malami, signed an agreement described as a “Letter of Intent” between the Swiss government and the Nigerian government on the restitution of illegally-acquired assets forfeited in Switzerland. Mr. Burkhalter signed the letter for the Swiss government.
Under the agreement the Swiss government will award to Nigeria $321m “of 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.”
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