Last updated on December 29th, 2022 at 07:08 am
By June 8, 2022, it would be 24 years after Nigeria’s dictator Sani Abacha died, but after more than two decades, his loots around the world continue to ‘surface’ where they were secretly kept.
The latest Abacha loot according to the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom is $23,439,724 which is NGN9,730,298,226.88 using the official rate (NGN415.12/USD)
In a statement published on the NCA website, the money was among tens of looted funds identified by the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) linked to the late despot.
Abacha ruled one of the resources-rich countries between 1993 till 1998 when he died in controversial circumstances. Some intelligence analysts in The United States the dictator might have been poisoned by some disgruntled close aids.
The real net worth of Abacha after death remains unknown because more than 40 foreign bank accounts linked to him and his associates had in them millions of US dollars, Pounds sterling among other global foreign currencies
The latest recovery was achieved courtesy effort of the UK agency and USDOJ, after nearly seven years of litigation and international negotiation to obtain a recovery order.
The agency stated that the fresh Abacha loot has been transferred to the home office for onward transmission to the USDOJ.
Asset Denial Senior Manager at the NCA, Billy Beattie, was quoted UK’s NCA as saying that the UK is not safe haven for criminals around the world who launder money
“We work closely with UK and international partners to tackle the threat posed by corruption, which disproportionately impacts the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.
We are committed to ensuring that those who perpetuate corruption do not benefit from their actions.”UK’s National Crime Agency
Since Abacha died, over $3 billion have been recovered from accounts linked to him and some of his associates.
Some of those that have been accused of helping the late despot to launder money include Mohammed Abacha (his son), Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (one of his advisers and now a governor in Kebbi), Ismaila Gwarzo, Alhaji Ahmadu Daura, and Chief Anthony Ani (his minister of finance) among others.
Accusation of re-looting the repatriated loot
Since the repatriations of Abacha loot began during the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, there have been accusations that the monies were mismanaged by Nigeria’s authority.
For instance, in 2020, a Senior US Senator Chuck Grassley attempted to block the repatriation of Abacha loot ($320 million) to Nigeria from New Jerse.
Following revelations that the Buhari-led government was planning to pay a certain percentage to Bagudu for the revealing locations of the loots, which the government denied.
Bagudu was one of the trusted members of the kitchen cabinet of Abacha’s military dictatorship.
The U.S. senator had noted that Nigeria couldn’t account for how previous funds were utilised by Nigeria’s government.
In a move to defend the integrity of Buhari, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments at the time, Mrs Maryam Uwais, swiftly disclosed that the Social Investments Programme (SIP) was financed with Abacha loot.
According to her, at least 80% of the SIP funds were from the recovered loot.