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What did Abacha need all this money for?

Author:
Kofi Boateng
Date:
2001-01-01 19:43:45


Nigeria says looted funds to bolster 2001 budget

December 31, 2000 Web posted at: 10:50 AM EST (1550 GMT)

LAGOS, Nigeria (Reuters) -- Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Sunday that public funds recovered from late dictator Sani Abacha had been ploughed into the 2001 budget to bolster his government's welfare measures.

Obasanjo said on a broadcast by state television that his government had been able to recover $800 million.

In addition, the government earned 10 billion naira ($9 million) in direct cash and proceeds from the sale of confiscated properties of the late dictator, who died in 1998.

"The money has been ploughed back into the 2001 budget and will go into providing welfare packages for Nigerians," Obasanjo said.

Obasanjo has estimated the total sum stolen by Abacha, members of his family and associates at more than $3 billion.

Most of the funds have been traced to banks in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.

Obasanjo's government has been able to get the banks to freeze about $2 billion.

Obasanjo took power in May 1999, ending 15 years of military rule in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation.

The president, who used the television programme to review the performance of his government in the last 18 months, called for patience and understanding of government programmes.

"What the military has destroyed in 15 years cannot be corrected in one day," Obasanjo said, adding, "Nigerians should have cause to smile in the coming year."
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