The United States will turn over to Nigeria $23 million loot taken by former military ruler Sani Abacha, according to an agreement was signed on Tuesday, August 23.
Abacha ruled Africa’s most populous nation and top oil exporter from 1993 until his death in 1998, during which time Transparency International estimated that he took up to $5 billion of public money.
Nigeria has reached several agreements to return stolen cash in recent years and this agreement was signed on Tuesday, August 23, at the office of Abubakar Malami, minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation.
U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard who signed for the government of the United States said the cash was in UK accounts but was identified and frozen by U.S. officials. She added that including the latest deal, the United States had agreed to repatriate more than $334.7 million linked to Abacha.
Attorney General Abubakar Malami said the funds would be used for infrastructure projects, including the Abuja-Kano road, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the second Niger bridge under the supervision of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
“The president’s mandate to my office is to ensure that all international recoveries are transparently invested and monitored by civil society organizations to compete for these three projects within the agreed timeline,” Malami.
Other recoveries from Abacha’s loots include $750m from Abacha’s family in 1998, $64m from Switzerland in 2000, $1.2m from family in 2002, $160 from Jersey British Island in 2003, $88m from Switzerland in 2003, $461m from Switzerland in 2006, $44m from Switzerland in 2006, $227m from Switzerland in 2014, $322m from Switzerland 2018, $311 from US, Jersey in 2020 and $23m from UK.
The U.S. Justice Department has previously said that Nigeria must use money repatriated from funds looted by Abacha on agreed public projects or be forced to “replace” it.