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Abba: Abacha Family Shops for Lawyers

Posted by By Oke Epia on 2005/04/18 | Views: 1333 |

Abba: Abacha Family Shops for Lawyers


The family of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, hurriedly began moves late Friday night to assemble a legal team to defend Abba, the second son of the late military ruler, who was arraigned in Switzerland two days ago for money laundering and fraud related offences.

The family of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, hurriedly began moves late Friday night to assemble a legal team to defend Abba, the second son of the late military ruler, who was arraigned in Switzerland two days ago for money laundering and fraud related offences.

Abba was charged with the offences a day after he was extradited from Germany to Switzerland.

The news of the extradition and arraignment of Abba unsettled the late Abacha family and was said to have left Maryam, the matriarch of the family, heart-broken.

But THISDAY sources said the moves to put together a legal team in defence of Abba commenced immediately.

The Abacha family member were said to have quickly started working the telephone to get in contact with their contacts abroad in order to procure the services of reputable lawyers in Switzerland.

The Abacha family was also said to have contacted a prominent lawyer from the Southern part of the country to also help in procuring a lawyer.

An American lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, who handled the popular O.J. Simpson case and had been engaged by the Abacha family in its battle against the Federal Government over allegedly looted funds, had died last month.

Abba was arrested and detained in Germany late last year while allegedly attempting to close an account at the Deutsche Bank branch in Essen of which he was the sole signatory.

It was not clear on Saturday night if the Abacha family has eventually settled for some counsel.

Abba is at present being held at Geneva prisons.

The investigating judge at the Switzerland court, Daniel Dumartheray, told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), yesterday, that Abba was wanted in connection with the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars. He was also charged with “aggravated money laundering”, “participation in a criminal organisation” and “embezzlement”.

The judge ruled that Abba should be brought to court within eight days from the Geneva prison. He is currently being held at the prison.

Abba, who is believed to be in possession of some of $2.2 billion believed to have been stolen by his father between 1993 and 1998 when he was head of state, had been on the watch list of the Swiss authorities since 1999. He was arrested on December 9, 2004 in Neuss, Germany, while allegedly trying to close an account of which he was the sole signatory. German authorities were alerted by the Deutsche Bank branch in Essen before he could complete the transaction.

The account in question is one of the many foreign bank accounts believed to be owned by members of the Abacha family under security watch. In a futile effort to beat the Federal Government to that account which was yet to be uncovered at the time of his arrest, Abba had quietly sneaked out of Nigeria to Germany.

Sources leaked his identity to intelligence agents. His passport was said to be carrying a fake name. After beating the security network at the airport, he reportedly entered into a deal with a top manager of the bank.

Unaware that there was a set-up, Abba tried to close the account. The manager played along with him until the last minute. Abba reportedly promised the manager ten percent of the total amount of money in his account. On the day he was supposed to withdraw all the money, he came to the bank and concluded plans on how to transfer the money. But the bank had been cordoned off by security operatives. He was promptly arrested and detained in Germany.

Attempts by the Abacha family present to the Swiss authorities from handing over Abacha’s loot to the federal government were aborted when Switzerland’s Federal Court threw out an appeal by Abacha's family and associates, who had opposed the return of about $500 million. They had argued that a new Swiss investigation into Abba could change previous rulings.

The Swiss authorities had been investigating bank accounts linked to Sani Abacha since the Obasanjo government accused him of looting state coffers during his regime. The following year, Swiss authorities froze SFr870 million in accounts linked to the Abachas. The Swiss Federal Banking Commission investigated 19 Swiss banks for accepting Abacha money.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.