Why we want to return $150m Abacha loot — France


Paris made a commitment in Abuja on Friday to return 150 million dollars of deceased Gen. Sani Abacha’s loot frozen in France.

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, Ms Catherine Colonna told a news conference that France would return the loot to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.

“France will return to Nigeria assets stolen from the Nigerian people by Abacha and his family that have been frozen in France.

“We will start discussions with the Nigerian administration to allocate these 150 million dollars to development projects that will benefit the population, according to the priorities of the Nigerian government,’’ she said.

She explained that the commitment was in response to a request submitted by the Nigerian Ministry of Justice to the government of France.

Colonna added that to deepen bilateral relations between Nigeria and France, her country had reinforced the partnership between the two countries over the last year and would want to go further.

“I had the great honour of being received by President Bola Tinubu. Our discussion focused on the state of our bilateral partnership as well as on major regional and global crises.

“I thanked him for participating in the summit on a New Global Financing Pact that we hosted in Paris in June.

“More broadly, I acknowledged the irreplaceable role of Nigeria in global governance,’’ she said.

Colonna noted that Nigeria, Africa’s leading economy, is also France’s first trading partner in Sub-Sahara Africa.

“France’s foreign direct investments in Nigeria have doubled over the last 10 years and have exceeded 10 billion euros.

“More than 100 French companies are working in Nigeria.

“They do not only sell French products, they invest in Nigeria’s economy and have created more than 10,000 jobs in factories, farms and also engage vocational training.

“Our goal in the coming years is to further increase these investments in Nigeria and also the investments of Nigerian companies in France.

“The French government also invests directly in Nigeria through financing from the French Development Agency,’’ she said.

Colonna was in Abuja on a one-day visit to discuss Franco-Nigerian partnership in the areas of cultures and the creative industry of the Nigerian economy.