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Abacha loot: FG confirms recovery of $322.51m from Switzerland

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Kemi Adeosun

The Federal Government says it has received 322.51 million dollars from the Swiss Government as part of looted funds recovered from former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha.

Mr Oluyinka Akintunde, the Special Adviser, Media and Communications to the Minister of Finance, said this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to Akintunde, the government received the money since Dec., 2017.

Akintunde said there was no controversy surrounding the recovery of stolen funds by the former head of state from the Swiss Government.

“The minister wishes to dissociate herself and the Federal Ministry of Finance from recent reports on the Abacha refunds.

“The minister had at no time written any letter to the President or any member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the payment of lawyers for the Abacha recovery.

“She also refutes the flawed reports of controversy surrounding the Abacha recovery.

“We wish to state that the sum of 322,515,931.83 dollars was received into a Special Account in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Dec. 18, 2017 from the Swiss Government.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no controversy concerning the recovery of the Abacha monies from the Swiss Government,” he said.

Akintunde said the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, frowned at a recent report that she objected to the payment of 16.9 million dollars to two lawyers who recovered the Abacha funds.

It may be recalled that in 1999, the Nigerian Government hired Mr Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer to recover the Abacha loot.

After a successful negotiation by Monfrini, the recovered money was domiciled with the Attorney-General of Switzerland pending the signing of an MoU with Nigeria to avoid the issues of accountability that trailed previous recoveries.

All that was left after the signing of the MoU was a government-to-government communication for the money to be repatriated to Nigeria.

However, Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, later engaged the services of another set of lawyers in 2016 for a fee of about N6 billion (16.9 million dollars).

The two Nigerian lawyers are Mr Oladipo Okpeseyi, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and Temitope Adebayo.

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