Switzerland will soon return $321m confiscated from Sani Abacha’s clan to the Nigerian government. The Swiss head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter, will be meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari tomorrow in Abuja to discuss the restitution of these funds.
A coalition of Nigerian and Swiss civil society organizations have called on the governments of both countries to ensure that the returned assets are used to benefit the Nigerian population and that the process of restitution is as transparent as possible.
“These funds must be allocated to projects of public interest, and use a transparent process involving Swiss and Nigerian NGOs to do so,” the coalition stated in its letter addressed to the concerned authorities.
Additionally, the coalition urged the governments to return the funds to Nigeria in a series of installments, and that the whole process is monitored by the World Bank to ensure that the funds are used appropriately.
“The transfers must be performed in installments spread over time with an attached condition that the funds returned be used as initially intended. The World Bank must then confirm the use of these funds by, for example, using independent auditors.”
The coalition highlighted a recent mismanaged restitution process involving Nigeria and Lichtenstein to emphasize the importance of transparency and good governance. In 2014, Lichtenstein returned $203m seized from Abacha to Nigeria, but the money vanished without a trace. The funds had been intended to assist President Goodluck Jonathan’s government combat Boko Haram.