By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government and the Republic of Ireland have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to return €5.5 million looted by General Sani Abacha, the late head of state, to Nigeria.
In a statement signed yesterday, Ms Helen McEntee, Ireland minister of justice and equality, said the MoU followed an order recently issued by a court in Ireland regarding the funds.
The Ireland Criminal Assets Bureau was said to have frozen the loot in 2014 where it was kept in an Irish bank account.
“I am very pleased to sign this Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and Nigeria. This represents the culmination of a long process which began with an internationally led investigation.
“The Criminal Assets Bureau took part in this international operation which led to the freezing of over $1 billion in funds worldwide, of which approximately €5.5 million was identified in a Dublin based bank account.
“The return of these assets will be the first time that Ireland has taken such action and will be a concrete demonstration of Ireland’s commitment to international cooperation in the fight against corruption and to assisting countries which have been adversely affected by corruption in the past, and is in line with our international obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption,” she said.
She further said the MoU to return the loot was achieved by significant multi-agency collaboration in Ireland, saying: “It demonstrates the intent of both States to uphold our shared values and our international obligations to eliminate corruption.”
There is no accurate data which disclosed how much the late Abacha, who ruled from 1993 and died in 1998, looted from the coffers of the nation but estimates put it as much as $5 billion.
So far, more than $3.5 billion have been recovered out of that money but reports suggest that the monies are being looted again by public servants charged with handling the reparations.
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