FG accuses Switzerland of ‘daylight robbery’ in recovery of looted funds

The federal government has accused Switzerland of “robbing” Nigeria in the course of recovering funds looted from the country.

Nigeria recently signed an agreement with Switzerland for the release of $322 million said to have been stolen by Sani Abacha, former military head of state.

This is just one of the previous recoveries made by both current and past administrations of the said loot as well as the others, usually through signed treaties.

But speaking at the second International conference on combating illicit financial Flows (IFF) and enhancing asset recovery for sustainable development in Abuja on Tuesday, Geoffrey Onyema, minister of foreign affairs, said the difficulty in recovering the loot is usually “mind-boggling.”

He said though developed countries have been able to put in measures to help identify their citizens who were transferring loot there, it is usually difficult for countries like Nigeria.

“For developing countries as ourselves, it’s so much more difficult – the kind of hurdles that we have to overcome,” he said.

“Large sums of money have been found in Jersey, for instance, and other countries are laying claim to it, because in getting to Jersey, it passed through different jurisdictions. We haven’t been able to get the money back.

“We got some money back from Switzerland, but my God! When you look at the details, I was shocked and extremely angry at the process of recovery. Percentages were paid out to all kinds of institutions.

“To me, this is daylight robbery that these countries are perpetrating, and of course playing on the fact that we’re not the United States. So, it’s something we keep harping on, that these countries have to do a lot more, because at the end of the day, they are condoning huge theft and are accessories after the fact in fact.”

He added that when a country is “making it difficult” for legitimate owners to recover looted funds, “then you’re just as guilty of theft as those that transferred the money in the first place. This is totally unacceptable and totally immoral.”