Looting: Abacha’s family loses appeal to unfreeze bank accounts

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

After decades of litigation to secure their unfettered access to Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha’s alleged stolen public funds running into billions of Dollars, stashed in foreign accounts, the Supreme Court of Nigeria recently dismissed an appeal by the family asking for an order to unfreeze some bank accounts belonging to him and other members of the family overseas.

ConsumerConnect learnt that the accounts, domiciled in banks in the United Kingdom (UK), Switzerland, Island of Jersey, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, were frozen following mutual agreements entered between Nigeria and the countries during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Mohammed Abacha, son of late Gen. Abacha, had filed an appeal to unfreeze the purported stolen monies.

Channels TV reports that a five-man panel of the Apex Court, led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, in its recent judgement, unanimously, held that the suit which was first initiated before the Federal High Court, in Kano, Kano State capital, in January 2004 had become statute-barred.

In the lead judgment read by Justice Amina Augie, on behalf of Justice Chima Nweze, the Supreme Court affirmed the concurrent decisions of both the Federal High Court in Kano and Court of Appeal, Kaduna Division, which had both dismissed the suit for being statute-barred.

Subsequent upon the mutual judicial assistance entered into between Nigeria and Switzerland in 1999, former President Obasanjo had asked Mr. Kanu Agabi, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) at the time, to write to the Swiss Government to freeze all bank accounts foreign countries, held by Abacha and his family members between 1993 and 1998 when he was the Nigerian Head of State.

It was gathered that the government discovered the accounts in Abacha’s name in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Island of Jersey, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg and had subsequently frozen them.

Recall that on January 28, 2004, the Abacha family challenged the freezing of their accounts by filing the suit at the Federal High Court, Kano.

The Nigerian Government officials also signed an agreement with the United States to repatriate about $318million of Abacha’s loot to the country recently.

However, the court dismissed the suit on the grounds that it was statute-barred.

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