The government of Switzerland has said it would soon return $321 million looted by late head of state, General Sani Abacha and kept in Swiss banks, as part of its commitment to fighting money laundering and other trans-national crimes in that country.
The Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Eric Mayoraz, made the disclosure yesterday, dur- ing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Legal Assistance on criminal matters, between the Swiss government and the Federal Government of Nigeria in Abuja.
The ambassador stated that the MoU was aimed at fostering understanding between the two countries particularly as it relates to their different legal system.
He said: “We are now in the process of repatriating $321m from the second batch of the Abacha loot”, adding that the country had in 2005 repatriated $722m in the first batch.
Mayoraz said: “Today’s event is significant in the sense that it would eradicate every bottleneck associated with the repatriation of stolen funds starched in our country.
“Our countries enjoy excel- lent relations and we cooperate as partners in many fields, on the return of looted assets, migration, human rights, humanitarian assistance and many others.
“Today, we decided to take
this cooperation forward to deepen it in the field of judicial cooperation. By signing a Memorandum of Understand- ing in this important area, our two states further strengthen their ties of friendship and cooperation.”
While stating that fight- ing international crime, in particular corruption, is an important issue also for the Swiss government as the MoU provides for a settle foundation to improve cooperation, the envoy added that it has the advantage of bringing direct contact through central authori- ties as well.
“The text we will now sign marks the starting point of a new era in our common fight against international crime. People, goods and money move around easily in today’s world. That is generally a positive thing. Unfortunately, this mobility is not limited to honest people and clean money. Criminals and proceeds of crime profit from it, as well. States must thus cooperate in order to fight transnational organised crime, corruption, money laundering, the drug trade”, he said.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajia Abba Ibrahim, disclosed that the idea of sign- ing the MoU was first muted in 2015. She stated that the agreement would help block accounts of funds linked to money laundering and other trans-national crimes.
Ibrahim commended the Swiss government for supporting Nigeria’s fight against corruption, noting that repatriated funds can help facilitate essential development in Nigeria.
She assured the ambas- sador of the commitment of the Buhari’s administration towards the improvement of the living standards of Nigerians, and pledged the nation’s commitment in deepening relations between Nigeria and Switzerland.
UK Government Has Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
The United Kingdom on Wednesday Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
British government on Wednesday became the first country to approve Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use, according to the UK government.
The vaccine will be rolled out from next week and the first dose could be administered as early as December 7th, stated people familiar with the matter.
Last week, the UK government announced it had ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 and appointed Nadhim Zahawi, the current junior business minister, as the minister responsible for the deployment of the vaccines.
British government on Wednesday morning said, “The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use”
“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, revealed that the programme would commence early next week.
“It is very good news,” Hancock said.
Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.
On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.
Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.
“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.
“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.
“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”
Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria
Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.
The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.
However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.
Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.
In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.
The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He added that people are facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
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