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Family Gives $750M Back to Nigeria

November 10, 1998

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) _ The family of Nigeria’s late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, has handed back to the government more than $750 million in state funds illegally amassed by the former leader, a government spokesman said.

The money has been deposited into a special account at the Central Bank of Nigeria, government spokesman Mohammed Haruna told reporters Monday.

During his five-year military dictatorship, Abacha diverted hundreds of millions of dollars in government funds to his personal accounts. Since his death in June, Abacha’s family has returned vast sums of money.

The government has put pressure on family members to return the money, confiscating the passports of Abacha’s wife and some of his children, and keeping some family members under surveillance

Others in Abacha’s government also allegedly siphoned money from the state to amass personal fortunes. Nigeria’s former finance minister, Anthony Ani, said Abacha’s national security adviser Ismail Gwarzo channeled about $1.3 billion worth of foreign reserves into private accounts.

Although accustomed to military rule and conflict, Nigeria suffered enormously under Abacha, whose leadership was marked by divisive policies, endemic and institutionalized corruption and brutal repression.

Abacha was replaced by another military leader, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, who has vowed to hand power over to an elected civilian government. Abubakar has been working to free political prisoners and redress the financial mismanagement that marked Abacha’s tenure.

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