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Ex-Military Leaders Defend Former Nigerian Military Leader Abacha; Deny Looting of Treasury

Last Updated: 6/9/2008 6:19:20 PM

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At a 10 year anniversary prayer session to remember the passing away of former military ruler of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha, other former military rulers, Generals Abubakar, Babaginda and Buhari absolve him of looting the national treasury.....

Former Military Ruler of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha who rule Nigeria from November 1993 to June 1998.
Former Military Ruler of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha who rule Nigeria from November 1993 to June 1998.

Three former leaders of Nigeria came out strongly to defend the name of former military ruler of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha.

General Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Babangida, who overthrew Buhari’s government and was succeeded by Gen. Abacha and General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who succeeded Abacha upon his death while still in office, all declared that there was no evidence of corruption against the former military ruler.

They were all speaking at the 10th anniversary prayer session for Abacha death held in Kano over the weekend, a week after the deceased general’s wife also declared that they were no basis to accuse her husband of corruption.

General Buhari, who also served in Abacha’s government as head of Petroleum Trust Fund said "All the allegations levelled against the personality of the late Gen. Sani Abacha will remain allegations. It is 10 years now, things should be over by now."

The same tone was also struck by General Babaginda who declared "It is not true that he looted public treasury, I knew who Abacha was because I was close to him."

The general then went on to eulogize Abacha calling him a visionary for his initiation of Vision 2010, which is still used today as a reference point for Nigeria's economic and political transformation.

General Abubakar was equally full of praise for Abacha, stating: "It is quite unfortunate and unfair to accuse the family of the late Sani Abacha of looting public funds. But now, we have been seeing what is happening. Whether we like it or not, Gen. Abacha has done a lot for this country.”

However these comments are in stark contrast to the statement released by the Swiss government last month, which said it has returned all monies stolen by Abacha to Nigeria.

Giving a breakdown of the monies returned, the Charge d'Affairs of the Embassy of Switzerland, Mr. Fabio Baiardi, at a recent press conference in Abuja, said that a first instalment of $290 million was transferred on September 1, 2005, a second instalment of $168 million on December 19, 2005 and $40 million was transferred at the end of January 2006.

Also records available from Stolen Asset Recovery (STAR), a joint initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Bank, indicates that $505.5 million have been recovered from the Swiss authorities as part of the Abacha loot.

Even more tellingly is the fact the previous government of Olusegun Obasanjo admitted in 2002 to have negotiated with the Abacha government to refund over $1 billion or 80 per cent of their liquid asset in exchange for freedom from litigation.

Obasanjo interviewed by a news magazine in May 2002 said: "The first thing we did was to be able to freeze the Abacha family's loot where we were able to get the co-operation of the judiciary and governments of those countries. And what we were able to freeze in real cash and par bonds was close to $2 billion.

"We fought a case in London and we got $150 million or thereabouts released, about 300 million Deutschmark. Then there were little ones like $20 million by another group and that kind of thing.

"That case in London, for instance, cost us (to maintain our lawyer) a little bit over $1 million. The Abacha family's lawyer was paid over $12 million. They were able to pay that because it is not their money. It's your money and my money. But what the lawyer wanted on their side was to go on endlessly and they can do that almost for ever.

"So, our lawyers came and said: 'Well you have a choice to make. We got to a situation where we can get about $1.2 billion and the Abacha family may be $100 million and par bonds of about $300 million. But the value will be about 50 per cent of that because it matures in the future.

"So, you have to decide whether to go for this or continue with the litigation. And that's one of the hardest decisions I have to make in my life because I know that the Abacha family hadn't legitimately done any work to deserve $100 million.

"But should I go ahead to recover $1.2 billion of Nigeria's money or go to tell Nigerians that we are fighting this case and 25, 30 years from now you wouldn't get anything. So, when I thought about it, I said well at the end of the day, I had to explain to Nigerians.

"Even the Financial Times said this is a model for any country to follow because no nation has been able to achieve as much as that or anything close to that. So, I'm proud of what we have been able to achieve,"


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Comment By: madfe

As a Nigerian living abroad,Nigerian former leaders never cease to amaze me. I suppose only thieves know there own. Yet, the likes of Babangida et, al that should be doing some hard times in jail, stil weld power in the country and allowed to make ridiculous statements like this in the light of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. We deserve what we get.

Posted On: Sunday, February 15, 2009 4:52 PM

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