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Liechttenstein frustrating efforts by Nigeria to recover €185mil "Abacha loot"

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IMAGE: Sani Abacha - Former Nigerian Military Ruler »



Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Sunday in Washington DC, USA, lamented that Liechttenstein, continues to frustrate efforts by Nigeria to recover €185 million popularly called Abacha loot, after 14 years.

There have been several hurdles put in Nigeria’s way in the central European nation’s courts, by the shell companies or their representatives, challenging every step, and that the World Bank has offered to help ensure that the recovered funds are judiciously utilised for the good of Nigerian.

Okonjo-Iweala, who was fielding questions on the sidelines of the 2013 annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, further lamented that “it has gone to a stage where the courts in Liechtenstein have now litigated and said no it should be returned.”

The companies, she said, have “taken the case to the European court of human rights saying that the Liechtenstein government has violated their human rights by allowing this money to be taken away from them. And of course, you know that that charge does not obtain. But by taking it to that court, it means another two or three-year delay... just delaying tactics.”

The delay tactics, Okonjo-Iweala noted, “Suits the government of Liechtenstein very well, because they get to keep the money, their banks keep the money and will invest it and get money out of it. So they keep delaying, and this is denying Nigeria it’s rightful possession. And the Liechtenstein government asked us to sign a guarantee that if the European court of human rights fines them for any reason, we will indemnify them

“That means we will pay the fines, we said fine, just to get out because the likelihood that they will be fined for acting it this way is very limited. So we signed an indemnity, I signed it with approval from the President and after receiving it, they now turned and said no they need a third party guarantee, they need a bank in another country in a third country to guarantee them and this is not really acceptable. What would you need a third party guarantee for in this case?

“So I think that we need to fight to get our money back. That is what we are doing; we are doing it from several ways. We are making public this matter, we have said to them that there is no problem with how the money will be used, we will do a similar thing that we did when the Swiss government returned $500 million equivalent to us under president Obasanjo.”

She recalled that at the time, “we had the World Bank work with us with our own NGOs in Nigeria with Swiss NGOs and the World Bank to monitor the use of this money. We put the money into specific projects that were beneficial to Nigerians in rural areas like rural roads, health clinics and all of them were specified and monitored and today that has set the track record for the way these returned monies can be used.

“Today we have said to the Liechtenstein government that we would do similar thing and the World Bank has agreed to participate in this. There is a unit here in the World Bank which i set up during my time called Stolen Assets Recovery Unit and they do this kind of things with countries. They can help you monitor the use of returned assets, they can help and support you in recovering your money and so we are glad to have the World Bank and they should release our money and they would be used in a very transparent way for projects that Nigerians will be very happy about. President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged himself to that and that is all we are asking them.

Article Credit: Leadership

Updated 5 Years ago

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