Following the recent pledge by the United States to return the sum of $480 million stolen by late Nigerian dictator, General Sani Abacha, Nigerians are now officially at a loss about exactly how much the incredibly corrupt ruler stole from the country.
This is coming just a month after Nigeria came into an agreement with the Swiss government to repatriate a fresh $32 1million of the Abacha loot to government bringing the sum to $801 million due to be repatriated to Nigeria by the Switzerland and America governments.
Speculations are rife that Abacha was able to siphon between $6 billion and $7 billion during his regime which led to his being named as the fourth most corrupt leader in history in 2004.
How Much Has Nigeria Recovered So Far?
The Abacha loot recovery process began in 1999 after President Olusegun Obasanjo got into power. In July of that year, Nigeria began civil proceedings in London against Mohammed Abacha, Abubakar Bagudu and companies owned by them, which led to about $420 million in assets being identified and frozen.
In May 2002, President Obasanjo struck a deal with Abacha’s family so Nigeria could recover about $1.2 billion; while the Abachas would keep $100 million and bonds worth $300 million.
Following that deal, in November 2003, the Nigerian government recovered $149 million from the Island of Jersey.
On August 19, 2004, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice transmitted to Nigeria, all the assets in Switzerland owned by the Abacha family, about $500 million and one year later, the then Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala announced in a Switzerland press conference that Nigeria has recovered $458 million from the Abachas, and “about $2 billion total of assets…”
In March 2014 Switzerland repatriated $380 million to Nigeria and three months later, Liechtenstein announced that it had returned $227 million, with President Jonathan immediately setting up a ministerial panel to determine its use.
August 2014, the US announced the forfeiture of $480m of Abacha funds and the return of the money to the Nigerian government.
While accurate information on the actual amount is not known, it is believed that Nigeria has received almost $3 billion of the Abacha loot in the last 17 years.