Sani Abacha is by some records the most successful coup plotter in the history of Nigeria’s military. On 17 November 1993, Abacha overthrew the government of Chief Ernest Shonekan. In September 1994, he issued a decree that placed his government above the jurisdiction of the courts, this gave him absolute power, and the right to detain anyone for up to three months without trial. Needless to say, the man ruled with terror.
Abacha was listed as the fourth most corrupt leader in history. He and his family reportedly stole a total of £5 billion from the country’s coffers. Abacha’s death was received by Nigerians with so much jubilation. After his death, his wife Mariam, was once caught trying to flee the country with 38 cash-stuffed suitcases. His Son, Mohammed Abacha and his business manager returned $750m when the Abdusalami Abubakar led military government started an investigation.
In April 2001, Britain’s Financial Services Authority disclosed that 23 London banks had handled $1.3bn belonging to the family and friends of General Abacha. The Nigerian Government in 2003, recovered $149 million from the island of Jersey. In 2005, the Finance Minister at the time, Okonjo-Iweala announced that Nigeria had recovered the Abachas $458 million and about $2 billion total of assets. In 2012, Swiss Ambassador Hans-Rudolf Hodel confirmed in Abuja that his country so far had returned $700 million of the Abacha loot found in Swiss banks.
There have been several accounts of returns made to Nigeria, intending returns and frozen accounts. One important fact cannot be overlooked. A whole lot of the money recovered, have been embezzled over the years.
In April 2018, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun confirmed the repatriation of $322m, an amount originally deposited in Luxembourg by Abacha, which was later confiscated by a Swiss court. Under the National Cash Transfer Scheme, the president promised to assist one million poor and most vulnerable Nigerians with a monthly stipend of N5,000 each. He stated that it was one condition given by the Switzerland authorities for the repatriation of the funds.
Nigeria as a country has been saddled over the years with an Insensitive and selfish set of leaders whose interest only lies in enriching their pockets and amassing wealth for their generations yet to be born. Anyone who has followed Governance and the Politics in Nigeria would understand why the Swiss Government would give the Nigerian Government such conditions. However, whether the condition makes sense or whether it would indeed be beneficial to the common man, is another cause of concern.
Whose names should be on the list? Who should get these monies? How do we make sure fictitious names are not on the list?