By George Samuel, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that late General Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s late military Dictator, stole close to $1bn between 1993 and 1998.
Buhari in an article published in Newsweek, a United States-based publication, thanked countries that have returned the looted funds back to Nigeria.
Though the President did not mention the name of Sani Abacha directly, it was clear that he was referring to the late dictator.
Buhari served under the late Abacha as head of Petroleum Trust Fund
He said, “And we can now move forward with road, rail and power station construction — in part under own resources — thanks to close to a billion dollars of funds stolen from the people of Nigeria under a previous undemocratic junta in the 1990s that have now been returned to our country from the US, UK and Switzerland.
“That these friendly nations agreed to return these funds after so long is testament to the fact that Nigeria is rightly seen as an increasingly stable and beneficial place to transact and invest. It is much the same across the continent, with sub-saharan Africa now outpacing Asia, Europe and North America by some measure in terms of foreign direct investment inflows-to-GDP, perhaps for the very first time.”
Hundreds of millions of dollars stolen by the late Abacha and kept in foreign accounts have since been recovered by various Nigerian governments.
In 1998, General Abubakar Abdulsalami recovered $750m from the Abacha family; in 2000, General Olusegun Obasanjo recovered $64m from Switzerland; still in 2002, Obasanjo got another $1.2bn from a deal with the Abacha family and another $160m in 2003 from Jersey, British Island. Obasanjo got another $88m in 2003, $461m in 2005 and $44 in 2006, all from Switzerland.
On his part, former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan retrieved $227m from Liechtenstein while President Buhari got $322 in 2018 and the last $311 in 2020.