The Government of Ireland has agreed to return €5.5 million stolen by late dictator Sani Abacha to Nigeria, a statement by the Department of Justice and Equality said on Thursday.
The money is part of the $5billion stolen by the late military Head of State between 1993 and 1998.
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Helen McEntee, said, “I am very pleased to sign this Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and Nigeria. This represents the culmination of a long process which began with an internationally led investigation.
“The Criminal Assets Bureau took part in this international operation which led to the freezing of over $1bn in funds worldwide, of which approximately €5.5 million was identified in a Dublin based bank account.
“The assets misappropriated by the late Gen. Sani Abacha, former Head of State of Nigeria, were frozen in a bank account in Ireland by the Criminal Assets Bureau in October 2014. Following an application by the Nigerian authorities last year, the High Court has recently made an order providing for the return of these assets to Nigeria.”
The minister said that the return of these assets will be the first time that Ireland has taken such action and will be a concrete demonstration of Ireland’s commitment to international cooperation in the fight against corruption and to assisting countries which have been adversely affected by corruption in the past.
“This very welcome outcome has been achieved by significant multi-agency collaboration in Ireland. In addition to the work of the CAB and my own department, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has worked closely with the authorities in Nigeria in relation to this matter.
“I want to congratulate all those who worked towards achieving the conclusion of this Memorandum. It demonstrates the intent of both states to uphold our shared values and our international obligations to eliminate corruption.”