President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigeria will not relent until it recovers all the $5 billion stolen from Nigeria by the late General Sani Abacha and his family and stashed in western countries.
He also stated that Nigerians are delighted by the news that 72 artefacts, known as the Benin Bronzes, held by the Horniman Museum in London, were returning home, 125 years after they were stolen by British troops.
In an opinion piece in the Financial Times of London, Buhari said the clamour for repatriation of looted treasures is becoming irresistible. According to him, there was once a similar clamour for the return of Africa’s stolen assets, and he sees both as part of the same struggle to bring back to Nigeria what is rightfully ours.
According to Buhari, “countless billions siphoned from the continent by corrupt former leaders remain stashed in western bank accounts. Although Nigeria has arguably been the most successful among African nations in securing the return of stolen money, it has recovered only a fraction of what remains in the west.
“Earlier this year, Nigeria was forced to take legal action against the UK National Crime Agency after repeated delays to the return of money taken out of the country in the 1990s by former dictator General Sani Abacha.”
He, however, said the court case reveals the scale of challenge before Nigeria.
Stating that Abacha is thought to have siphoned off up to $5bn to the west, Buhari said this case concerned just £150 million.
According to him, given the levels of corruption across Africa, there will be concern as to whether funds returned will be used appropriately.
He said, “But we should not forget that it was through western jurisdictions that the money was laundered in the first place. Not trusting Africans to spend their own money properly echoes the argument that we can’t be trusted to look after our own cultural heritage.
“In the case of both looted cultural heritage and stolen assets, western museums and authorities largely seem to agree that the loot should, in principle, be handed back. However, the technicalities of repatriation leave plenty of room for maintaining the status quo.
“Museums say that treasures should be returned if it can be proved that they were looted. Of course, they argue, it is a different matter if artefacts were acquired through purchases and other legitimate means. But it is the same museums that are responsible for assessing the provenance of artefacts. They have a vested interest in keeping them, encouraging a lackadaisical approach and murky criteria.”
The president said that, in 2025, a new museum will open to showcase the treasures of the Kingdom of Benin.
Designed by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, the Edo Museum of West African Art will sit in Benin City, the former capital of the Edo kingdom.
“But without the return of more bronzes held in the west, we may struggle to fill the museum,” he added.
President Buhari also added that Nigeria also has an infrastructure gap to fill — as the World Bank and other international development institutions have highlighted.
“Though my administration has undertaken the largest infrastructure programme since our country gained independence, the hold-up in repatriating stolen assets held in the west will make it difficult to finance new projects that help to alleviate poverty.
“In 2017, Switzerland returned $321mn to Nigeria’s Social Investment Programme to fund the national social safety net. Monitored by the World Bank, the money has now been disbursed through conditional cash transfers to 1.9mn of Nigeria’s most vulnerable citizens.
“Three years later, the US and the British Channel Island dependency of Jersey returned $311m to the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, managed by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority. The first projects financed by the fund, expressways and bridges, are due to be completed later this year.
“With stolen assets, the precise means by which institutions return such funds — whether they deliver them to the state, a government, an ad hoc fund or some other body — elicit endless discussion rather than action.
“We know corruption persists across Africa, as it does across the world, but we cannot afford to wait for unspecified ‘progress’ to be achieved before this money is released,” he added.
$3.65bn Loot Retuned To Nigeria In 24 Years – BBC Report
Meanwhile, the total amount of looted funds recovered from late head of state, General Sani Abacha, in the past 24 years has been put at $3.65 billion.
This was revealed by an infographic by the BBC with data gathered from the federal government, World Bank, and Transparency International.
It showed that while in 1998, a total of $750 million was recovered from the late Head of State’s family; in year 2000, $64 million was recovered from Switzerland; in 2002 – $1.2 billion was recovered from the Abacha family; in 2003, $160 million and $88 million were recovered from Jersey and Switzerland respectively, and in 2005 another $461.3 million was returned to the country from Switzerland.
Also, in 2006, Nigeria received another $44.1 million from Switzerland; in 2014 – $227 million was recovered from Liechtenstein; in 2018 another $322 million from Switzerland; in 2020 a total of $311.7 million was repatriated from the USA and also recently an agreement was signed for another $23 million to be sent from the USA.
Buhari Meets Freed Train Attack Victims, Orders Service Chiefs To Replicate North East Feat Nationwide
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Kaduna directed the service chiefs to replicate the successes recorded in the fight against insurgency in the North East in other parts of the country, bolstered by the unprecedented acquisitions in military platforms and hardware in the past few years.
Addressing the Passing-out Parade and Commissioning Ceremony of Cadets of 69 Regular Course (Army, Navy and Air Force) of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), the president, in a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu listed comprehensive and systematic acquisitions by his administration within seven years, describing them as unprecedented in the past 38 years of the Nigerian military.
He also used the occasion to commend the military for the safe release of the remaining 23 victims of the March 28 Abuja-Kaduna train attack on Wednesday.
President Buhari told the cadets it was an honour to serve as the Reviewing Officer of the Passing Out Parade of 69 Regular Course for the last time as ‘President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
”When this government came in 2015, we inherited a country at a crossroads, with bombs going off with frightening frequency even in our cities, and we came in to confront and manage the crisis.
”This administration has since coming on board procured over 550 naval platforms, out of which 319 had been delivered, as part of the aggressive fleet recapitalisation of the Nigerian Navy.
”We have also increased the number of Nigerian Air Force platforms by more than 38% and enhanced the serviceability rate of aircraft in the NAF inventory by over 70%.
”In pursuing this same objective, the Nigerian Army has received more than 2000 units of various Armoured Fighting Vehicles, guns, and equipment. These are in addition to improved funding of the three Services along with other security and intelligence agencies.
”These comprehensive and systematic acquisitions within seven years are not only unprecedented in the past 38 years, but they also align with our pledge to safeguard and strengthen the security architecture of our country.
On the release of the train victims held hostage by Boko Haram terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train on March 28, 2022, the President in hailing the kinetic and non-kinetic approaches adopted by the military in tackling some of the country’s security challenges, said:
”This feat was not achieved without our military, as the interventionist Chief of Defence Staff Action Committee set up by General L.E.O Irabor was at the centre of the development, along with sister security agencies. I say bravo to our soldiers, officers and gentlemen.”
Restating the commitment of the Armed Forces, under his command, to fulfil the promise to neutralise Boko Haram terrorism in the North East, the President pledged that they would not relent in resettling and rehabilitating the victims of the tragedy.
He noted that although successes have been recorded in the conflict inherited, especially in the North-East, the security challenges in the country have evolved and assumed other dimensions in some areas.
”We have devised both military and non-military methods to intervene, and even rolled out an amnesty programme to rehabilitate repentant terrorists who surrendered and laid down their arms unconditionally.
”Our tasks as the guardians of the nation are to prepare for the evolving and complex security situations and make sure that no terrorists can threaten Nigeria’s sovereign integrity.
”In this regard, I have instructed the Service Chiefs to replicate the successes in the North East in other parts of the country, and I call on all Nigerians to continue to support our Armed Forces and security agencies,” he said.
The president, therefore, charged the military to continue the safeguard the economic and military capabilities of the nation and not to allow terrorists and insurgents to destroy the investments in key national infrastructure.
”Our interventions, and even where we dealt with saboteurs, were designed to prevent the collapse of the economy and revitalise the Armed Forces, and this is the legacy we are handing over to the next administration.
PMB Meets Freed Kaduna Train Passengers
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met with the freed 23 passengers of the March 28, 2022 Abuja-Kaduna train attack at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) hospital in Kaduna.
According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, the President made an impromptu visit to the hospital to see the victims of the train attack after commissioning Cadets of 69 Regular Course (Army, Navy and Air Force) of the NDA, in Afaka, Kaduna State.
Before boarding NAF 001 back to Abuja from the Kaduna International Airport, President Buhari detoured to the hospital, where he also thanked the Nigerian military for their brave services in securing the safe release of the hostages from Boko Haram terrorists.
Members of the Chief of Defence Staff Action Committee led by Maj.-Gen. Usman Abdulkadir (Rtd) were present at the hospital.
Others are Maj.-Gen Adamu Jalingo (Rtd), Brig.-Gen. Abubakar Saad (Rtd), Dr. Murtala Ahmed Rufai, Ibrahim Abdulllahi, Amb. Ahmed Magaji and Prof Yusuf Usman, Secretary.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. LEO Irabor had earlier introduced the Committee members and briefed the President.
Kaduna Train Attack: We Will Bring The Masterminds To Justice, Military Vows
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has said despite the release of Abuja-Kaduna train passengers, terrorists behind the March 28, 2022 attack will be brought to justice.
Director Defence Information, Major General Jimmy Akpor, and the director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Musa Danmadami, stated this yesterday at the biweekly update on the Armed Forces of Nigerian Operations.
Major General Akpor said elements of national power, both kinetic and non-kinetic, were deployed to secure the release of the train passengers.
The terrorists on October 5, 2022 released the remaining 23 passengers of the I’ll fated train.
The release comes after six months, eight days in the terrorist’s captivity where they were tortured and subjected to dehumanizing treatment.
However, the director Defence Media Operations, Major General Musa Danmadami, said details of the operations will hurt the sensitivity of the families of the victims.
“I don’t think the details should be an issue for now; the most important thing is that these people have been held hostage for six months plus and the Defence Headquarters in collaboration with other agencies in a committee that was set up by the President and Commander in Chief has been able to secure their release.
“In the course of operations, there is what we call kinetic and non-kinetic operations and this one was that of non-kinetic operations that was conducted to see that these people are released, at appropriate time, the details will be given.”
But the director of Defence Information, Major General Jimmy Akpor, said a lot went into ensuring their release from captivity
…Military Kill 19 Terrorists, Arrests 42 Logistics Suppliers In Borno
Meanwhile, troops of Operation Hadin Kai have neutralised 19 Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP)/Boko Haram terrorists, arrested 42 logistics suppliers while 418 terrorists surrendered to troops in two weeks, according to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ).
The director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Musa Danmadami, who disclosed this at the biweekly update on the Armed Forces of Nigeria operations between 22 September to 6 October 2022, said all arrested Boko Haram terrorists have been handed over to the appropriate authorities for further action while surrendered Boko Haram/Islamic State of West Africa Province terrorists and their families are being profiled for further action.
He said the troops, between 22 September to 4 October 2022, arrested 29 Boko Haram/ISWAP logistic suppliers during clearance operations.
General Danmadami said the troops recovered from the Boko Haram suspects 50 big bags of dry fish, two big sacks of fried meat, 55 jerry cans of Premium Motor Spirit, one big bag of coal, 13 bags of breads, one bag of salt, one bag of beans, five cartons of detergent, three packs of batteries, 50 leathers of mosquito coil, 10 mobile phones, four vehicles, one bicycle and the sum of 2,479,740.00 cash.
He said between 26 September to 3 October 2022, troops arrested a suspected Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists’ ammo technician at Gorom village in Monguno local government area of Borno State, with 300 empty cases of ammo suspected to be used for fabricating 7.62mm specials.
He added that another six suspected Boko Haram terrorists and collaborators, including a foreigner, were arrested at different locations.
He said the troops also rescued two Chibok girls, namely, Yana Pogu and Rejoice Senki, one of the abducted Chibok girls along with their children at Bula Davo village in Bama local government area and Kawur village in Konduga local government area of Borno State, along with 12 others abductees.
“Consequently, troops within the period in focus recovered 6 AK47 rifles, 14 AK47 magazines, 1 HK gun, 1 G3 rifle, 112 rounds of 7.62mm special, 285 rustled cattle and 8 gallons of Premium Motor Spirit. Troops also neutralised 19 terrorists, arrested 42 suspected terrorist logistics suppliers, rescued 3 civilians while a total of 418 suspected Boko Haram terrorists/Islamic State of West Africa Province terrorists, who claimed to have lost interest in the ideology of Boko Haram terrorists, surrendered to our troops at different locations with their families comprised of 44 adult males, 135 adult females and 239 children,” he said.
In the North West, he said troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI neutralised five terrorists, arrested seven terrorists and rescued 8 civilians.
Troops also recovered five AK47 rifles, five motorcycles, three bicycles, 15 rounds of 7.62mm special, five AK47 magazines, one bandolier, two locally fabricated AK47 rifles, two locally fabricated guns, three torchlights, one car, 11 pump action cartridges and 52 rustled cattle among other items.
The director stated further that airstrikes on identified notorious terrorist leaders, Gwaska Dankaramis camp at Mashekari area in Zurmi local government area and Sani Dangote Camp in Farara village in Jibia local government area of Katsina State led to death of a suspected terrorist leader identified as Dogo Rabe and seven members of his gang while others fled in disarray.
In the South-South, he said troops of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe discovered and destroyed 60 illegal refining sites, 58 wooden boats, six speed boats, 384 storage tanks, 223 cooking ovens and 60 dugout pits.
The troops also recovered 20 pumping machines, three motorcycles, one tricycle, 18 vehicles and arrested 34 pipeline vandals while 3,764,000 litres of crude oil, 458,000 litres of Automotive Gas Oil, 1,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit, 13,000 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosine were also recovered.
In a related development, he said troops of Operation Dakatar Da Barawo discovered and destroyed 14 illegal refineries, 72 metal storage tanks, nine wooden boats, 29 dugout pits, 51 ovens and 25 reservoirs.
“Cumulatively, within the weeks under review, oil thieves were denied a total of two billion one hundred and forty-six million seven hundred ninety-five thousand four hundred seventy-two-naira forty-two kobo (N2,146,795,472.42) in the South South Region” he said.