Ireland, Nigeria agree on return of €5.5m Abacha loot

The federal government is set to receive part of late General Sani Abacha loots as Ireland said it has reached an agreement with Nigeria to return the late military leader’s frozen funds.

Abacha, who ruled Nigeria between 1993 and 1998, misappropriated and diverted over $1 billion (N383.4billion) loots to different countries across the world.

Helen McEntee, Ireland Minister of Justice and Equality, said the memorandum of understanding followed an order recently issued by a court in the European country regarding the funds.

The Ireland Criminal Assets Bureau froze the loot in 2014 under request from the administration of then President, Goodluck Jonathan.

“I am very pleased to sign this Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and Nigeria. This represents the culmination of a long process which began with an internationally led investigation.

“The Criminal Assets Bureau took part in this international operation which led to the freezing of over $1bn in funds worldwide, of which approximately €5.5m was identified in a Dublin-based bank account.

“The return of these assets will be the first time that Ireland has taken such action and will be a concrete demonstration of Ireland’s commitment to international cooperation in the fight against corruption and to assisting countries which have been adversely affected by corruption in the past, and is in line with our international obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption,” she said.

The money is the latest Abacha-linked cash reclaimed by Nigeria. 

Corruption watchdog, Transparency International, estimates that Abacha, who ruled from 1993 until his death in 1998, stole as much as $5bn of public money during that time.

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