•Govt develops framework to repatriate stolen wealth
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The federal government has said a framework that will make it easier to trace and repatriate stolen assets stashed abroad is being worked out even as it signed an agreement with Switzerland for the restitution of illegally-acquired assets forfeited in Switzerland by the family of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, disclosed this on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja during a meeting with a Swiss delegation led by the country’s Federal Councillor and Head of its Foreign Affairs Department, Mr. Didier Burkhalter, and the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Eric Mayoruz.
According to him, the framework once finalised, will be made available to the public and it would cover the whole spectrum from the source of the stolen asset to how it would be managed once recovered.
He said: “The framework will guarantee that returned assets will be used in the interest of the people of this country.”
Osinbajo told the Swiss government that the $321 million Abacha loot to be returned to Nigerian would be used judiciously.
He said Nigerian government welcomed the decision of the Swiss to return the Abacha loot.
Osinbajo said: “We guarantee that recovered assets would be put to uses for which they have been intended.”
Commending the Swiss government assistance in repatriating the country’s stolen assets, the vice-president said the federal government appreciated her laudable efforts, noting that the “Swiss has always been at the forefront of returning stolen assets and ensuring that the people of Nigeria get the benefit.”
Later, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), signed an agreement described as a “Letter of Intent” between the Swiss and Nigerian governments on the restitution of illegally-acquired assets forfeited in Switzerland.
Burkhalter signed the letter on behalf of Swiss government.
Under the agreement, the Swiss government will award to Nigeria $321 million “of funds illicitly acquired by the Abacha’s family, initially deposited in Luxembourg and confiscated by the Judiciary of the Republic and canton of Geneva pursuant to a Forfeiture order dated December 11, 2014.”