France set to return $150m Abacha loot

stolen funds will be returned to Nigeria in the form of grants

Corruption and the misappropriation of public funds have long plagued nations around the world, leaving devastating consequences in their wake. Recovering stolen assets and returning them to their rightful owners is an essential aspect of the fight against corruption. In a significant development, France has pledged to return $150 million of the “Abacha loot,” funds siphoned away by Nigeria’s former military dictator, General Sani Abacha. This move marks a significant triumph for global anti-corruption efforts and serves as a beacon of hope for other nations seeking the return of stolen assets.

General Sani Abacha’s rule over Nigeria from 1993 to 1998 was marked by rampant corruption and human rights abuses. Under his regime, billions of dollars of public funds were embezzled and stashed away in foreign bank accounts. The Abacha loot, as it came to be known, represents a fraction of these ill-gotten gains.

For years, the Nigerian government, civil society, and international organizations have been working tirelessly to trace and recover the stolen assets. The return of these funds is essential for Nigeria’s development and the well-being of its citizens. It is also a critical step in holding corrupt leaders accountable and discouraging future acts of corruption.

France’s pledge to return $150 million of the Abacha loot is a significant step forward in the battle against corruption. This decision underscores the country’s commitment to international efforts to combat corruption, money laundering, and illicit financial flows. It demonstrates that no nation, regardless of its status or wealth, is above the principles of transparency, accountability, and the rule of law.

The return of the Abacha loot is not an isolated event but rather part of a broader global movement to recover stolen assets and repatriate them to their rightful owners. International organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank have been working to create frameworks and agreements that facilitate the return of stolen assets, and France’s actions are aligned with these efforts.

The French government announced on Friday its decision to return $150 million of the late General Sani Abacha loot.

Initiated discussions with the Nigerian government in order to allocate the funds
France has invested over €10 billion in Nigeria in the last ten years

Since the death of Abacha, who was Nigeria’s military leader from 1993 to 1998, the country has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars heaped abroad.

The visiting France Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, who disclosed this in Abuja, said she has informed President Bola Tinubu about the planned return of the seized fund.

Colonna noted that the stolen funds will be returned to the country in the form of grants, and discussions will soon be opened with the Nigerian government on where to invest the funds.

She said, “I also informed President Tinubu that, in response to the request submitted by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Justice and in agreement with the US Administration, France will return to Nigeria the assets stolen from the Nigerian people by General Sani Abacha and his family that have been frozen in France since 2021.

“We will start discussions with the Nigerian administration in order to allocate these $150 million to development projects benefiting the population, according to the priorities of the Nigerian government.”

The minister noted that France has invested over €10 billion in Nigeria in the last ten years, with over 100 French companies doing business in the country, creating over 10,000 jobs.

She said, “Over the last ten years, it has exceeded 10 billion euros. More than 100 French companies are already working here. They do not simply sell French products; they invest in Nigeria’s economy, creating jobs (10 000 jobs as we speak), factories, farms, and vocational training centers.

“Our goal for the coming years is to further increase these investments in Nigeria, as well as the investments of Nigerian companies in France.

“The French Government also invests directly in Nigeria through financing from the French Development Agency (AFD, Agence française de développement).

“Since 2010, we have mobilized close to 3 billion euros to support the emergence of Nigeria. AFD is carrying out projects in 26 out of the 36 states of Nigeria.”

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