A lawyer for the Nigerian government says he will make an official request for legal assistance from Switzerland today. The demand concerns blocked Swiss bank accounts allegedly relating to the late Nigerian dictator, General Sani Abacha.This content was published on January 11, 2000 - 07:47
A lawyer for the Nigerian government says he will make an official request for legal assistance from Switzerland today. The demand concerns blocked Swiss bank accounts allegedly relating to the late Nigerian dictator, General Sani Abacha.
The Geneva-based lawyer, Enrico Monfrini, is co-ordinating efforts to retrieve money deposited by Abacha and his associates overseas.
Nigeria has only days to make a formal request for legal assistance to the Swiss authorities. It must provide evidence of a link between investigations in Nigeria and the blocked assets in Switzerland.
In addition to the Abacha family, Nigeria's original request for legal aid covered Abacha's former security adviser, a former minister, four unidentified Nigerian businessmen and several companies.
They are suspected by Nigeria of "systematically pillaging" the Nigerian central bank over a number of years.
An official in Geneva said in November that some US$551 million had been frozen in about 120 bank accounts relating to Abacha in Geneva and Zurich.
Monfrini said he was also preparing legal moves to investigate assets that may have been deposited by Abacha in Luxembourg, France and Germany.
"Several hundred million dollars are involved," said Monfrini. He added that there were "concrete indications" of Abacha assets in the three countries.
Abacha's five-year-rule ended in June 1998 after the military ruler died of an apparent heart attack. His police state was notorious for its brutality, with his cronies reportedly receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in kickbacks.
Nigeria's civilian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, was elected last February and took office in May, ending 15 years of military rule.
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