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Abacha’s son faces trial in Switzerland

Posted by Chijama Ogbu, Gbenga Odugbesan and John Alechenu on 2005/01/10 | Views: 329 |

Abacha’s son faces trial in Switzerland


A son of the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, Abba, is to face trial in Switzerland in connection with looted funds stashed away in the country’s banks.

A son of the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, Abba, is to face trial in Switzerland in connection with looted funds stashed away in the country’s banks.

He was arrested on December 9,2004 in Neuss, Germany while allegedly attempting to close an account of which he was the sole holder.

Abba was arrested when German authorities were alerted by the Deutsche Bank branch in Essen, said, Khaleej Times Online, quoting the latest issue of the news weekly Der Spergel, which goes on sale on Monday (today).

According to the report, Abba is now in custody in Dusseldorf, western Germany, awaiting extradition to Switzerland on the request of the prosecutor’s office in Geneva, in connection with a number of offences.

When our correspondents visited the Abacha family home on Gidado Road, Nasarawa GRA, Kano, on Sunday, security had been beefed up there.

Many people, especially local politicians, were seen trooping into the residence in solidarity with the family over the arrest of Abba.

Nigeria’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Alh. Maitama Sule Yusuf, was also seen by our correspondents.

Yusuf, however, said he was visiting the Abachas to “commiserate with the family over the death of a former Minister of Special Duties, Alhaji Wada Nas.”

The security operatives at the Abachas’ residence subjected every guest to screening before allowing them in.

Attempts to speak with the Press Secretary to Mrs. Mariam Abacha, Mr. Isa Abba, failed as his mobile line was switched off.

A text message sent to him was not replied.

A source close to the family however said, “The Abachas are hard pressed for cash. That was why their son went to Germany.”

The account which Abba allegedly attempted to close is said to be containing part of the $700 million frozen by the Swiss authorities in 1999 after Nigeria asked for assistance in investigating the financial network allegedly set up by the former head of state.

Funds embezzled by the Abacha clan include several million Deutsche marks paid in bribes by the steel group, Essen Ferrostaal, in connection with the building of an aluminium factory in Nigeria, Der Spergel said.

It added that the former head of Ferrostaal was also being investigated in the affair.

Nigeria believes that Abacha, who died in 1998, siphoned over $2.2 billion which he invested in several countries, including Britain and Switzerland.

Switzerland returned $200 million to Nigeria at the end of 2003 following settlements between parties to the money and the Nigerian authorities, as well as seizure orders issued by the prosecutor’s office in Geneva.

The out-of-court agreement between Nigeria and the Abacha family was reached in May, 2002.

It was agreed that the late general’s family could keep $100 million provided that his son signed an agreement enabling foreign banks in Switzerland and elsewhere to return to Nigeria a further $1 billion of the allegedly looted money.

The deal was apparently linked to the release from prison of Mohammed Abacha, ending his three-year sojourn behind bars on charges of embezzlement.

Suspicions that the deal went awry arose when Mohammed, upon his release, was quoted as saying that he had made no commitment to sign anything.

Throughout this long affair, President Olusegun Obasanjo faced a no-win situation.

He was condemned by some persons for negotiating a deal with the Abachas.

At the same time, Abacha’s supporters slammed the President for detaining the general’s son for so long on what they said were spurious charges.

After the initial legal stalemate, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice temporarily lifted the lid on the country’s banking secrecy and handed over bank documents concerning relatives of the former dictator.

In return, Nigeria assured the Swiss that the rights of Abacha family members would be respected in the event that they would be tried before a court or face criminal proceedings.

The justice ministry said further information and documents had allowed it to piece together the paper trail left by the additional $500 million.

Nigerian officials, including Obasanjo, had said that the returned funds would be used for health, education, roads and other projects “to help rural and poor people”.

Swiss officials said the country’s mission in Nigeria would be to “monitor the use of the Abacha funds in accordance with this assurance.”

Apart from Switzerland, Nigeria also asked for help in tracing looted assets in Germany, Britain, the Channel Islands, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg.

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown