The federal government will on June 25 receive the N36 billion ($228 million) looted by former head of state, General Sani Abacha, from the Government and Principality of Liechtenstein, the ministry of finance has said.
This is part of the agreement reached with the Abacha family, leading to the discontinuation of a suit against Mohammed, one of his sons, after the family also agreed to withdraw their own case against the federal government.
Special adviser to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the coordinating minister of the economy and minister of finance, Mr Paul Nwabuikwu said in a statement on Thursday: “To ensure the proper utilisation of the funds, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is constituting an inter-ministerial committee to identify the best projects and programmes in which to invest the funds.”
“The President has also directed that parts of the funds be saved in the Future Generations Fund, one of the funds managed by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) to help secure the economic future of both Nigerian youths and unborn Nigerians”.
Nwabuikwu said in line with the agreement reached with the Principality of Liechtenstein, the World Bank will assist in monitoring the utilisation of the funds for specific projects.
He further explained: “The return of the funds is a culmination of a robust 16-year effort by the federal government of Nigeria to retrieve the funds.
“Working under the leadership of President Jonathan, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adokie led the effort with the support from the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retired).
“The return of the funds was delayed by the suit instituted at the European Court of Human Rights by companies owned by the Abachas alleging infringement of their rights to fair trial and to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions. As a result, the Principality of Liechtenstein could not proceed with the return of the funds.”
He added that “to demonstrate the commitment of the federal government to retrieving the funds which belong to the Nigerian people, the Attorney-General of the Federation also filed a suit against Mohammed Abacha before the Abuja High Court.
“As part of the negotiations to expedite recovery of the funds, the Abachas agreed to discontinue the suit before ECHR. The federal government also equally subsequently withdrew the case against the Abachas, paving the way for the release of the looted funds by Liechtenstein.”
Abacha is said to have stolen $5 billion while in office from 1993-1998, according to Transparency International.