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Nigerian tribe appeals for share of Abacha loot

Oil drilling has caused widespread environmental damage in the Ogoni region: the tribe wants compensation from Abacha's looted millions


Representatives of Nigeria's Ogoni tribe have called on the Swiss government to give them a share of $670 million (SFr1.14 billion) in assets frozen in Swiss bank accounts linked to the country's former dictator, Sani Abacha.

Speaking in Bern, Deebi Nwiado of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) said that up to 90 per cent of the funds linked to Abacha had come from Nigerian oil revenues.

He said some of the money should be distributed among the people who had suffered as a result of big oil companies' activities.

"MOSOP demands part of the Abacha money so that we can tackle some of the environmental damage and help victims of human rights violations."

Nwiado's demands have the backing of Swiss development aid groups. They have called on Bern to try to broker a settlement between MOSOP and the Nigerian government on the distribution of the frozen assets.

MOSOP has not specified how much money the Ogoni tribe wants from the frozen accounts.

The Ogoni tribe were persecuted under the Abacha regime, and several of their members were executed, including the writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Nigeria's democratically elected government has asked Switzerland for help in recovering as much as $3 billion, which it says was plundered by Abacha.

swissinfo with agencies

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