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Looted Funds: Nigeria Accuse Switzerland of ‘Daylight Robbery’

Valentine Chinyem

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The Nigerian Government has accused Switzerland of conning the country, as it tries to recover stolen funds looted by late military head of state, Sani Abacha.

The Federal Government, who had recently signed an agreement with Switzerland for the release of $322 million stolen by the former dictator, said it had to cross many hurdles, while paying a certain percentage at every interval in trying to repatriate the money home.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, said this while speaking at the second International conference on combating illicit financial Flows (IFF) and enhancing asset recovery for sustainable development in Abuja on Tuesday.

“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.”

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