Amb. Pio Wennubst, Assistant Director-General and Head, Global Cooperation Department, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, told the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York that Switzerland has returned all the money kept in the country by late Nigeria’s Head of State Gen. Sani Abacha, with 1.5 million dollars interest.
Wennubst said Switzerland returned about 322.5 million dollars (N116.11 billion) to the Federal Government. According to him, the original amount was 321 million dollars.
The Federal Government had announced receipt of 322.51 million from the Swiss government as part of the looted funds recovered from the late former Head of State.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, through her Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Oluyinka Akintunde, had confirmed the receipt of money from Switzerland.
Akintunde said: “We state that $322,515,931.83 (N116,105,735,458.80) was received into a Special Account in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Dec. 18, 2017, from the Swiss government’’.
Confirming this, Wennubst said: “We returned 321 million dollars including the interests.
“We return all the amount, 322.5 million dollars including the interest for the time that the funds were blocked’’.
The Swiss envoy also said that the money was returned to the Nigerian Government unconditionally.
“We are not talking about the condition; there was a programme on the social safety net that was developed by the Government of Nigeria and the Bank.
“After discussing, the only condition, set by the judiciary, not by us, was that the return of this asset should have been monitored by the World Bank and this is where we worked on’’.
According to him, these funds were part of the Nigerian Government contributions to the social safety net programme, “plus concessional loans from the Bank”.
The ‘Abacha loot’ was frozen in 2014 by a Swiss court after a legal procedure against his son, Abba Abacha.
Originally deposited in Luxembourg, the money was a fraction of the billions of dollars allegedly looted during his rule from 1993 to 1998.
Similarly, the UK Government also pledged its commitment to ensuring that money and other assets illegally transferred from Nigeria are repatriated back to the country.
Mr Nick Dyer, Director General, Economic Development and International, UK Department for International Development told NAN that assets return would contribute to the development of the origin countries.
Dyer said it was an important part of the development process to identify how and where assets were going astray and to also recover them and send them back.