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$400m Abacha Loot: FG to Pay Swiss Govt $79m Commission

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abacha loot
  • FG to Pay Swiss Govt $79m Commission

The Federal Government may have agreed to pay the Government of Switzerland $79m (N25.2bn) as part of conditions for the repatriation of almost $400m (N128bn) recovered from the family of the late military ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha.

The Chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraj, said this during a seminar to commemorate the 2016 International Anti-Corruption Day in Abuja on Friday.

The event was jointly organised by Nigerian anti-corruption agencies, the European Union, the United States and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and had in attendance senior diplomats and politicians.

It will be recalled that the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Eric Mayoraz, had said in July that his country would return $321m out of the Abacha loot to Nigeria.

However, Suraj, who was a member of a panel of discussants, said the original figure that was meant to be returned to Nigeria was about $400m.

He said the Nigerian Government had secretly agreed to forfeit $79m as part of negotiations.

Suraj said this was disgraceful as the Swiss Government was meant to pay Nigeria an interest instead of dictating the terms of agreement.

He said, “Unfortunately, the government goes to beg countries to get our money back rather than making demands, we appeal for the money and beg them to return it. We are fed with half information such that we even assume that we actually recover the amount stolen.

“I had a very funny experience and it is still ongoing. The $321m that the Swiss Government is meant to return to Nigeria, we discovered three weeks ago that the original money was about $400m. The legal process in Switzerland actually charged the Nigerian Government about $79m and that is why we are receiving $321m.

“The $321m is now to be returned to Nigeria with the condition that the World Bank will monitor how the funds will be spent. I cannot imagine anything more insulting.”

Attempts to speak with the spokesperson for the Swiss Embassy, Mr. Pascal Holliger, proved abortive as telephone calls were not responded to while he had yet to respond to a text message as of press time.

Also, an inquiry sent to the Office of the Attorney-General in Switzerland by email had yet to be responded to as of press time.

However, it will be recalled that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Geoffrey Onyeama, had said in June that the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo had paid the Swiss Government over $100m as commission for the return of Abacha’s loot.

He had said, “If you remember the Abacha loot in Switzerland at the time, Obasanjo’s government had to finally agree to give them 10 per cent of the amount. This was about $100m and so they returned $900m to Nigeria.

“If they (Swiss Government) had not agreed and said they wanted to keep the whole money, it would have been very difficult for us and that is why the anti-corruption summit and the initiative of President Muhammadu Buhari is really focused on these western countries to remove some of those barriers and lengthy procedures that are in place and make it possible for these people to delay (the payment).”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has described fighting corruption as a very expensive task.

He maintained that there was a need for the government to focus on crime prevention rather than crime fighting.

Fayemi, who spoke on the theme, ‘Corruption: An Impediment to the Sustainable Development Goals, said Buhari, administration would promote transparency.

The Country Representative of the UNODC, Cristina Albertin, lamented the high level of corruption in Nigeria and other developing nations.

She said 37 per cent of Nigeria’s gross domestic product would be lost by 2030 if corruption wasn’t curbed.

A spokesperson for the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, Noemie Charton, told our correspondent in an email that he would find out the situation.

The message read, “Thank you for your query. I have forwarded it to our colleagues in charge, and will get back to you in the course of next week.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Government

Ekiti Governor Unveils Multi-Billion Naira Relief Programmes Amid Economic Crisis

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Biodun Oyebanji

Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, has announced a comprehensive relief package aimed at alleviating the hardship faced by the people of the state.

The relief programs encompass various sectors to cushion the impact of the economic downturn.

One of the key initiatives entails clearing salary arrears amounting to over N2.7 billion owed to both State and Local Government workers.

This move signifies the government’s commitment to addressing the financial burdens faced by its workforce.

Furthermore, Governor Oyebanji has approved a substantial increase of N600 million per month in the subvention of autonomous institutions, including the Judiciary and tertiary institutions.

This augmentation is intended to enable these institutions to implement wage awards in alignment with State and Local Government workers’ salaries.

In addition to addressing salary arrears, the relief programs extend to pensioners, with the approval of payments totaling N1.5 billion for two months’ pension arrears.

Moreover, an increase in the monthly gratuity payment to state pensioners and local government pensioners will provide additional financial support, totaling N200 million monthly.

The relief initiatives also encompass agricultural and small-scale business sectors.

The allocation of funds for food production and livestock transformation projects underscores the government’s commitment to enhancing food security and economic sustainability at the grassroots level.

Governor Oyebanji emphasized that these relief programs are part of the state’s concerted efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of the economic downturn and foster shared prosperity.

The comprehensive nature of the initiatives reflects a proactive approach towards addressing the challenges faced by Ekiti State residents.

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President Tinubu Orders Immediate Settlement of N342m Electricity Bill for Presidential Villa

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power project

President Bola Tinubu has directed the prompt settlement of a N342 million outstanding electricity bill owed by the Presidential Villa to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).

This move comes in response to the reconciliation of accounts between the State House Management and the AEDC.

The AEDC had earlier threatened to disconnect electricity services to the Presidential Villa and 86 Federal Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) over a total outstanding debt of N47.20 billion as of December 2023.

Contrary to the initial claim by the AEDC that the State House owed N923 million in electricity bills, the Presidency clarified that the actual outstanding amount is N342.35 million.

This discrepancy underscores the importance of accurate accounting and reconciliation between entities.

In a statement signed by President Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, the Presidency affirmed the commitment to settle the debt promptly.

Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila assured that the debt would be paid to the AEDC before the end of the week.

The directive from the Presidency extends beyond the State House, as Gbajabiamila urged other MDAs to reconcile their accounts with the AEDC and settle their outstanding electricity bills.

The AEDC, on its part, issued a 10-day notice to the affected government agencies to settle their debts or face disconnection.

This development highlights the importance of financial accountability and responsible management of public utilities.

It also underscores the necessity for government entities to fulfill their financial obligations to service providers promptly, ensuring uninterrupted services and avoiding potential disruptions.

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Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Issues Ultimatum to 86 Government Agencies Over N47bn Debt

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Power - Investors King

The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has issued an ultimatum to 86 government agencies, including the Presidential Villa, owing a collective debt of N47 billion.

The notice comes as a response to the prolonged failure of these agencies to settle their outstanding electricity bills.

According to the public notice released by the AEDC management, some of the highest debts are attributed to prominent entities such as the National Security Adviser (owing N95.9 billion), the Chief of Defence staff barracks, and military formations (indebted to the tune of N12 billion).

Also, several ministries, including the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory and the Ministry of Power, have sizable outstanding bills.

The AEDC has expressed its frustration over the inability of these government bodies to honor their financial obligations despite previous attempts to facilitate payment.

In response, the company has warned of imminent disconnection of services if the outstanding debts are not settled within 10 days of the notice.

The outstanding debts are attributed to various factors including the devaluation of the naira, cash scarcity resulting from demonetization programs, high inflation rates, removal of fuel subsidies, and foreign exchange challenges.

These financial burdens have adversely impacted the operations of the AEDC, contributing to a loss of N99 million in foreign exchange alone.

As the deadline for payment approaches, government agencies are under pressure to address their outstanding debts to avoid service disruptions.

The AEDC remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that all entities fulfill their financial obligations, underscoring the importance of prompt payment for uninterrupted electricity services.

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