The Ambassador of Switzerland to Nigeria, Eric Mayoraz, has disclosed that his country has no more loot traceable to former Nigerian Head of State, late Sani Abacha, who was said to have stashed millions of dollars of money he looted from Nigeria’s coffers into bank accounts in Switzerland during his reign between 1993 and 1998.
The Swiss envoy made this disclosure on Thursday at a ceremony organised by the embassy to study asset recovery efforts between Nigeria and Switzerland using the infamous ‘Abacha loot’ as a focus. He added that his country has successfully repatriated over $1 billion dollars Abacha looted from Nigeria back to the country, stressing that his country no longer harbors Abacha loot.
The envoy said further that Switzerland had earlier returned $752 million tranche of the money Abacha and his family looted and stashed away in Swiss banks to Nigeria and recently repatriated another $321 million, which has been domiciled in Nigeria’s Central Bank.
Mayoraz added that Nigeria has made new laws, which make it difficult to loot its money and stash away in any part of his country stressing that the Mutual Legal Assistance recent legal Treaty the Swiss government signed with Nigeria will help to forestall the looting of the country.
“As a way out of what led to Abacha loot, we have signed a Mutual Legal Assistance treaty with Nigeria and it is meant to enable us to track and expose those who want to bring in illicit wealth and prosecute them in accordance with the laws in place.
“It is to be made clear that the new laws in Switzerland do not allow for any stolen wealth to be kept in any place in the country,” the ambassador said.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, in his reaction noted that the federal government has received the last tranche of $321 million of the Abacha loot from the Swiss Government, which he confirmed had been domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria. He pointed out that the money will be used to help poor and vulnerable Nigerians.
The minister, who was represented by the Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reforms, Juliet Ibebaku-Nwagwu, explained that Nigeria and the World Bank agreed to use the Abacha loot to fund the National Cash Transfer Scheme to develop the entire country.
He added that the government has put in necessary processes acceptable to the World Bank and other organisations to draw down the Abacha loot from Switzerland, stressing that the processes are being strictly implemented to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of the money.
“The process of drawing down the money from the Swiss Government was not smooth but President Muhammadu Buhari insisted all the same that all the processes stipulated must be adhered to and a central agency put in place to recover the money and put mechanism in place for managing the funds,” Malami said.
Also speaking, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment (SIP) Maryam Uwais, said that the cash transfer scheme aimed at reducing poverty in the country had been set up in about 19 states of the federation could draw cash from the Abacha loot adding that more states would soon join the scheme.
Uwais, who was represented by Linda Ekeator, Manager Legal, National Social Investments Office, noted that over 270,000 households had been captured under the scheme while the transfer of the $321 Abacha loot to beneficiaries of the programme would start in July.