France said it would be returning $150 million of General Sani Abacha’s loot to Nigeria.
Abacha’s reign over Nigeria was from 1993 to 1998, before his untimely death.
Twenty years after his reign, loot stashed abroad continued to surface, with the Nigerian government having already recovered hundreds of millions of dollars.
The visiting France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ms Catherine Colonna, while addressing a press conference on Friday, said she has informed President Bola Tinubu about the planned return of the seized fund.
She noted that the stolen fund will be returned to the country in the form of a grant while revealing that discussion will soon be opened with the Nigerian government on the areas in which to invest the fund.
She said: “I also informed President Tinubu that, in response to the request submitted by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Justice and in agreement with the US Administration, France will return to Nigeria the assets stolen from the Nigerian people by General Sani Abacha and his family that have been frozen in France since 2021. We will start discussions with the Nigerian administration in order to allocate these 150 million US dollars to development projects benefiting the population, according to the priorities of the Nigerian government.”
She said France has invested over €10 billion.
According to her: “More than 100 French companies are already working here. They do not simply sell French products; they invest in Nigeria’s economy, creating jobs (10,000 jobs as we speak), factories, farms, and vocational training centres. Our goal for the coming years is to further increase these investments in Nigeria, but also the investments of Nigerian companies in France.
“The French Government also invests directly in Nigeria through financing from the French Development Agency (Agence française de dévelopement, AFD).
Since 2010, we have mobilised close to three billion euros to support the emergence of Nigeria. AFD is carrying out projects in 26 out of the 36 states of Nigeria. We are financing infrastructure, rural roads, marketplaces, urban transportation, and water supply, but also a large number of SMEs and local start-up incubators. We are also investing more and more in vocational training for the youth.
Our main priority for the coming years is to support even further cultural and creative industries in Nigeria. They are already recognised worldwide and have huge potential to be developed. We support creators and entrepreneurs in the fields of animation, video games, music, fashion, and design to help them tap into international markets.
“I signed this morning, with the Minister of Finance, an investment agreement for an amount of 100 million euros for the l-Dice programme, through which AFD is going to support Nigerian entrepreneurs in the digital and creative industries. We provide financing expertise, but also exposure in France and in our outstanding cultural network in Nigeria, including the French Institute in Abuja and 10 Alliances Francaises.”