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Switzerland will return Nigerian assets

Switzerland to return Nigerian assetsSwitzerland will return around $321 million in assets seized from the family of former military ruler Sani Abacha to Nigeria via a deal signed with the World Bank, the Swiss government said.

Transparency International, a corruption watchdog, accused Abacha of stealing up to $5 billion of public money during the five years he ran the oil-rich country, from 1993 until his death in 1998.

In 2014, Nigeria and the Abacha family reached an agreement for the West African country to get back the frozen funds, in return for dropping a complaint against the former military ruler’s son, Abba Abacha.

The son was charged by a Swiss court with money laundering, fraud and forgery in April 2005, after being extradited from Germany, and spent 561 days in custody.

In 2006, Luxembourg ordered funds held by the younger Abacha be frozen.

Now Switzerland, Nigeria and the World Bank agree the funds will be repatriated via a project supported and overseen by the World Bank, the Swiss government said.

“The project will strengthen social security for the poorest sections of the Nigerian population. The agreement regulates disbursement of restituted funds in tranches and sets out concrete measures in the event of misuse or corruption,” it added.