Ireland has become the latest country to agree to return money looted and hidden in the European country by Nigeria’s former Head of State, late Gen Sani Abacha.
This is even as the Federal Government of Nigeria signed a memorandum of understanding with the Irish government to return €5.5million looted sum.
Ireland’s minister of justice and equality, Helen McEntee, stated that the MoU followed a recent court order issued by a court in Ireland regarding the funds.
The Ireland Criminal Assets Bureau was said to have frozen the loot in 2014 where it was kept in an Ireland bank account.
“I am very pleased to sign this Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and Nigeria. This represents the culmination of a long process which began with an internationally led investigation,” McEntee said in a statement on Thursday.
“The Criminal Assets Bureau took part in this international operation which led to the freezing of over $1 billion in funds worldwide, of which approximately €5.5 million was identified in a Dublin based bank account.
“The return of these assets will be the first time that Ireland has taken such action and will be a concrete demonstration of Ireland’s commitment to international cooperation in the fight against corruption and to assisting countries which have been adversely affected by corruption in the past, and is in line with our international obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption.”
Helen disclosed that the MoU to return the loot was achieved by significant multi-agency collaboration in Ireland.
“It demonstrates the intent of both States to uphold our shared values and our international obligations to eliminate corruption,” she added.
Abacha’s total loot is estimated to be around $5billion by Transparency International estimate, all stolen during his regime from 1993 to 1998
So far, about $3.6 billion has been recovered out of that money, which has been marred with varying degrees of corruption and misappropriation.
Reports were rife over had how the federal government paid controversial legal fees of up to $15 million to lawyers Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, hired for the repatriation of $321 million Abacha Loot from Switzerland.