Switzerland has repatriated over $1 billion Abacha loot to Nigeria.
This was disclosed by the country’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Eric Mayoraz, on Thursday in Abuja at a Forum on Asset Recovery hosted by the Embassy to discuss issues surrounding the late General Sani Abacha asset recovery between the two countries.
Several non-governmental organisations and representatives of international agencies in attended the forum.
Mayoraz said his country is collaborating with the Federal Government to trace and repatriate looted funds stashed in foreign lands.
He 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.
“$752 million was returned in 2005 and we discovered more and more in other banks and that involved the $322.5 million that was repatriated earlier this year.”
Although the envoy declined to reveal details of the funds that would likely be repatriated back to Nigeria, he explained that the ongoing efforts are 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 $322.5 million to ensure that money was spent to alleviate the sufferings of the poor.
He said: “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.”
The Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform, 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.
Ibebaku-Nwagwu said the money would be deployed to service the Social Investment Scheme, which is also an existing World Bank project.
She said: “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.”
The Executive Director of African Network for Environment and Economic Justice, David Ugolor, said there was a need to monitor the deployment of all recovered assets to “ensure that they are properly used for what they are meant for in Nigeria”.