6 June 2019
Authorities in the island of Jersey, a self-governing entity under the patronage of the UK, have seized more than $250 million dollars in assets belonging to family of the late Nigerian military dictator General Sani Abacha(in picture above). The assets of the account had been frozen by a federal court in Washington since 2014. The money in the Jersey’s Civil Asset Recovery Fund will be returned to Nigeria once an asset sharing agreement, is negotiated between Nigeria, the United States and the Jersey government. The funds were laundered through US banking system before they were parked in Jersey.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates corruption in Nigeria from 1960 to 1999 cost the country $400 billion. Most of these funds were stolen by past heads of state as well as senior ministers. Nigeria had never been able to convict the culprits and call for repatriation of the stolen money. At least US, Swiss and Jersey authorities are taking some steps to trace and seize these stolen assets. These measures will at least act as a deterrent to future thieves. A bigger proportion of the stolen money is parked in the United Kingdom.
Sani Abacha was reported to have milked $4 billion from Nigeria, delivering it to his own account, and those of his family and cronies.
Two years ago, in 2017, the Swiss government seized $321 million in deposits from Abacha’s family. It has also identified another $700 million of Abacha-associated assets.
Sani Abacha ruled Nigeria with an iron grip until he died on 8 June 1998. He was a military leader, who served as head of state from 1993 to 1998. After his death the country returned to civilian rule.
Abacha took a prominent role in the 1983 Nigerian coup d’état which brought General Muhammadu Buhari to power. He also played a key role in the August 1985 coup which removed Buhari from power. When General Ibrahim Babangida was named President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1985, Abacha was named Chief of Army Staff. He was appointed Minister of Defence in 1990.
He executed popular playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists, who came to be known as the Ogoni 9, environmentalists who were protesting against the activity of the government and oil giant Shell. The Abacha regime came under worldwide condemnation and Nigeria was suspended from The Commonwealth after the execution of the Ogoni Nine.
Big News Network reported.