The federal government confirmed yesterday that the sum of $322,515,931.83 being part of monies looted by late head of state, General Sani Abacha was received into a special account in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on December 18, 2017 from the Swiss government.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who confirmed this however spurned allegations in a report by a national daily that she wrote a “strongly-worded letter to the President”, objecting to the payment of $16.9 million fees to two lawyers who aided the refund of some of the Abacha loots.
In a statement issued by her media adviser, Adeyinka Akintunde, the minister also refuted the claim by the said media report that there is controversy surrounding the Abacha loot recovery.
The statement noted: “The Minister wishes to dissociate herself and the Federal Ministry of Finance from recent malicious and misleading media reports on the Abacha refunds.
“The Minister had at no time written any letter to the President or any member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the payment of lawyers for the Abacha loots recovery.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no controversy concerning the recovery of the Abacha monies from the Swiss Government”.
LEADERSHIP recalls that in 1999, the federal government hired Mr Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer to recover the Abacha loot.
After a successful negotiation by Monfrini, the recovered money was domiciled with the Attorney-General of Switzerland pending the signing of a MoU with Nigeria to avoid the issues of accountability that trailed previous recoveries.
All that was left after the signing of the MoU was a government-to-government communication for the money to be repatriated to Nigeria.
However, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Malami, later engaged the services of another set of lawyers in 2016 for a fee of about N6 billion (16.9 million dollars).