Nigeria in talks with Swiss to recover Abacha loot

Nigeria has lodged a request for judicial cooperation with Switzerland as part of an ongoing probe into an alleged multi-billion-dollar embezzlement by the late military dictator Sani Abacha, Swiss authorities said on Saturday.

“We received a request for judicial cooperation from Nigeria on October 3 concerning the restitution of funds” that have been blocked in Switzerland, the spokesman for the Federal Office of Justice, Folco Galli said. His comments confirmed a report in Saturday’s edition of the La Liberte newspaper.

Abacha, who died in 1998, is suspected of having looted the Nigerian treasury to the tune of about $2,2-billion (1,9-billion euros) during his stay in power from November 1993 to June 1998.
Just over $600-million remains blocked in Swiss bank accounts.

“We are going to need a bit of time to examine this request for cooperation and also to consult the Geneva authority for penal proceedings,” Galli said. He added it was currently impossible to predict when the whole process would be completed. The latest request by Nigeria follows the handing over to Abuja by Switzerland of documents in August as part of the investigation.

Bern sent the documents after receiving assurances that Nigerian authorities would provide human rights guarantees for Abacha’s family throughout the investigation. - Sapa-AFP

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