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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Abacha Loot: Inside the secret deal Jonathan authorized to shield ex-dictator’s family from prosecution

ABACHA
For allegedly helping their father plunder Nigeria of an estimated $5 billion in the 1990s, Mohammed and Abba Abacha, and other relatives of the late dictator, Sani Abacha, have been rewarded by the Nigerian government.

A secret deal between the government and the Abachas, wants the family to return part of the loot, in exchange for perpetual immunity against prosecution.

The deal, kept classified for months, was personally approved by President Goodluck Jonathan in July 2014, and jointly authored by the Attorney General, Mohammed Adoke.

The terms of the agreement, obtained by PREMIUM TIMES in March, have alarmed anti-corruption activists.

“The agreement is (also) a tragic triumph of impunity,” said The Berne Declaration, a Swiss nongovernmental organization, which for years has monitored efforts by the Nigerian government to recover hundreds of millions of dollars stashed by the former military ruler, and his family, in bank accounts across Europe, and America.

The agreement closes criminal proceedings for the plundering of the Nigerian treasury against the perpetrators and their accomplices, with the result that they go unpunished.

Foreign banks involved in the heist have also not been convicted of money laundering.

Worse, Swiss lawyers and other attorneys who helped facilitate the so-called out-of-court settlement, will pocket fees up to five per cent of all monies recovered from the family from banks in Switzerland and other countries. The government expressly agreed to pay one of the attorneys $28 million.

“This is all the more troubling because many of the banks involved have not been convicted of money laundering. It is equally incomprehensible that the Swiss lawyers involved may pocket up to 7 percent of the sum for their services, as this money belongs to the Nigerian population,” Berne Declaration said.

The base of the agreement is for the Abacha family to cooperate with federal authorities to have the stolen funds repatriated, in exchange for clemency.

On receipt of the assets, Nigeria will “end any and all legal proceedings and investigations against the settling parties (referring to the Abacha family)”.

The government will “recognise” properties owned by the family in Nigeria, the agreement says.
“The FRN (Federal Republic of Nigeria) will withdraw any and all civil proceedings against the settling parties,” one clause in the agreement states.

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