FEATURE ARTICLE

Babs AjayiMonday, August 11, 2014
Babsajayi@yahoo.com
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

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SANI ABACHA: A THIEF FROM OUR RECENT PAST

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"Rather than serve his county, General Abacha used his public office in Nigeria to loot millions of dollars, engaging in brazen acts of kleptocracy." - Assistant Attorney General, Leslie Caldwell

"General Abacha was one of the most notorious kleptocrats in memory, who embezzled billions from the people of Nigeria while millions lived in poverty," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. "This is the largest civil forfeiture action to recover the proceeds of foreign official corruption ever brought by the department. Through our Kleptocracy Initiative, we are seizing the assets of foreign leaders who steal funds that properly belong to the citizens they serve. Today's action sends a clear message: we are determined and equipped to confiscate the ill-gotten riches of corrupt leaders who drain the resources of their countries." - Department of Justice News Release

rom 1993 until his sudden demise in 1998 Sani Abacha was Nigeria's maximum ruler and dictator. He was a usurper and a monster who threw the nation into chaos and the people into one big jail house from which thousands never recovered. Abacha was a moron and cretin whose actions and inactions led to the death of many and the imprisonment, harassment, abduction, execution, judicial murder, termination and sudden departure of many from Nigeria. The Abacha years were rough, difficult and tough for the majority of our people. The nation was stagnant and its future uncertain. But while Sani Abacha was making the people's lives impossible, he was also making a light work of looting and stealing billions of dollars from the nation and siphoning the money to Europe and America. Abacha was an unrepentant thief and looter, along with his equally unrepentant, idle and jobless family. The Abachas are jobless, yet living in untold splendour from the proceeds of looting and kleptocracy. This week the American government took control of $480 million Abacha stole from Nigeria. This was the same Sani Abacha that was recognized with the Centenary honour by Goodluck Jonathan. I still marvel about what qualifies Sani Abacha for any award in any clime or society, except a corrupt state. Was it Abacha's ability to loot that made him qualify for Jonathan's worthless Centenary honour? Or was it his wickedness, meanness, brutality, special ability to abuse human and people's rights that put him on the same honours roll as Wole Soyinka?

The lame duck at the EFCC, one Mr. Lamorde, has been a quiet supporter of looters and he will not be charging the Abacha Family or anyone at all for looting the nation's treasury. The only exceptions are those who are in the bad books of his master Goodluck Jonathan. It is only in Nigeria that thieves control the apparatus of state that prosecute corrupt officials. However, in far away Washington, D.C., United States District Judge John Bates ordered that the funds Abacha stole from Nigeria be forfeited to United States control. The funds were $303 million in two bank accounts in the British offshore center of Jersey, $144 million in two bank accounts in France, and $27 million in three accounts in the United Kingdom and Ireland. There is yet a claim for another $148 million in four different investment portfolios in the United Kingdom, which are pending. The conclusion reached by US Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell was that Sani Abacha was a thief and a criminal and Caldwell did not hesitate to conclude that "Rather than serve his country, General Abacha used his public office in Nigeria to loot millions of dollars, engaging in brazen acts of kleptocracy." Thanks to US Attorney General Eric Holder who came up with the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative to prevent thieves and looters in the Third World from turning the United States into a safe ground for stolen funds. Holder had declared that the world "... must work together to ensure that corrupt officials do not retain the illicit proceeds of their corruption. There is no gentle way to say it: When kleptocrats loot their nations' treasuries, steal natural resources, and embezzle development aid, they condemn their nations' children to starvation and disease. In the face of this manifest injustice, asset recovery is a global imperative." Unlike Nigeria's Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke who considered Sani Abacha a saint, the District Judge in Washington saw Abacha as a rogue who managed a kleptocracy, the rule by thieves. Judge John Bates would have sentenced Sani Abacha to a long term in jail if he was alive today.

The rule of thieves has blossomed in Nigeria and is still what we have in place now. Today's thieves will not go unpunished for as long as their stolen funds are taken overseas and kept in bank accounts around Europe, the Caribbean and the United States. The US Justice Department filed the case against Sani Abacha, his son Mohammed Abacha and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, an Abacha front of Oronto Douglas' level. The US Justice Department accused the three of embezzlement, misappropriation and extortion of funds from the Nigerian government. The funds looted from the Nigerian government by Sani Abacha, his family and fronts ran into billions of dollars. It is very difficult to clearly confirm how many billions Abacha looted from the Nigerian treasury but the current Nigerian kleptocracy is only interested in what they can steal and loot. I do not think it is a good idea for the American government to return to the Nigerian kleptocracy the $480 million recovered from Abacha because the funds will be re-looted. The government has not been able to account for more than $500 million so far recovered and returned to this government. The US government should manage the funds and disburse it to pay for major projects in health and education. We have the American government to thank for helping to expose the thieves who are stealing from the nation and relieving them of the stolen loot, but the Americans can do more by ensuring that the funds are used to provide and procure health and social services that will meet the needs of our people. Today's kleptocrats should know that their days are numbered and their doomsday is not far away.

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