By Goodluck Ikiebe
France is set to return $150 million, another tranche of the loot traced to Sani Abacha, former Nigerian military leader, to the country.
The Special Adviser to President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, made this known in a statement on Friday following a meeting between President Bola Tinubu and Catherine Colonna, the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France.
Tinubu thanked France for the return of the loot, saying it would be used in developing the country.
“Thank you for the good news on the return of Abacha loot. We appreciate your effective cooperation concerning the return of Nigeria’s money. It will be judiciously applied in attaining our development objectives,” Ngelale quoted President Tinubu as saying.
Tinubu also commended the strengthening of bilateral relations between Nigeria and France, adding that more collaboration is needed on both political and economic fronts.
The President also welcomed the growing cooperation between the two countries in areas of shared interest, such as climate change, economic integration, education, and culture.
Responding, Colonna conveyed the goodwill of President Emmanuel Macron and expressed the readiness of France to expand mutually beneficial collaboration with Nigeria across multiple sectors.
The Minister said the repatriation of the stolen funds followed the completion of legal processes, saying “it was a long process, but we are glad that it was concluded”.
“Sometimes, justice may be slow, but this is a very good achievement,” she added.
According to the statement, the Minister also extended a formal invitation to President Bola Tinubu to attend the forthcoming Paris Peace Forum.
In May 2022, the United Kingdom said it recovered $23 million taken out of Nigeria illegally by Abacha’s associates and family.
About three months later, the United States returned another $20 million to Nigeria as part of the loot traced to Sani Abacha, former Nigerian military President and his co-conspirators.
In July, a federal high court in Abuja had ordered Tinubu to “disclose the exact amount of money stolen by General Sani Abacha from Nigeria”, the total amount recovered, and “all agreements signed on same by the governments of former Presidents (Olusegun) Obasanjo, (Umaru) Yar’Adua, (Goodluck) Jonathan and (Muhammadu) Buhari”.