President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday said efforts to repatriate another tranche of $300 million in Abacha loot had reached an advanced stage with the United States government.
The president said a memorandum of understanding would be ratified by both countries to return the trapped fund back to Nigeria. The $300 million was traced to bank accounts in the U.S. and Jersey, an island notorious for its lax tax avoidance regulations.
“The US$300 million recently identified as part of the Abacha money-laundering case,” would be returned to Nigeria, Mr Buhari said in his Independence Day broadcast on Saturday morning. “The Federal Ministry of Justice is working with the U.S. Department of Justice to conclude a memorandum of understanding to expedite the repatriation of these funds.”
Transparency International estimated over $5 billion was stolen under Sani Abacha’s dictatorship between 1993 and 1998. Nigeria had received over $2 billion of the plunder banked in several foreign entities since 1999.
Mr Buhari also said several partnerships were being entered with other countries to “combat tax evasion, smuggling, terrorism and illicit financial flows.”
“In June 2018, I assented to the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, to provide a domestic legal framework for obtaining international assistance in criminal matters,” the president said.
He said the new law had strengthened law enforcement agencies with adequate abilities to investigate financial crimes.
Nigeria attained its independence from Britain on October 1, 1960, joining a new wave of free nations across Africa and Asia of that era. The freedom significantly reduced the influence of Britain as a world power, as it marked a critical point in the winding down of centuries of colonialism.