Switzerland has given conditions for repatriating $321m looted fund to Nigeria.
Part of the conditions is that the fund will be used for projects that will benefit Nigerians and they (the projects) must be monitored by the World Bank.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama said that the government was working on the modalities for the repatriation.
Speaking shortly after holding a meeting with the Swiss Foreign Minister, Didier Burkhalter, on Tuesday in Abuja, Onyeama explained that Nigeria had signed an agreement with the Swiss government in the area of human right and migration.
He said, “It is $321m that we are looking at repatriating to Nigeria and the modalities are basically legal framework for that, mutual legal assistance framework that we are trying to put in place and there are pre-conditions that are also in place already and this requires monitoring mechanism.
“So, we have to agree beforehand as a pre-condition on what the money would be used for and the World Bank would be part of the monitoring process to ensure that the money is used for the benefit of Nigerian people.”
The Minister stated that Burkhalter’s visit was significant as it marked the commencement of the fund repatriation process, noting that other looted funds may be discovered in hidden accounts in Swiss banks.
Burkhalter said his country and Nigeria have a very constructive relation, adding that Switzerland planned to open a consulate in Lagos that would boost economic relations between the two countries.
He said his country would repatriate $321mn to Nigeria and pledged Switzerland’s continued assistance to IDPs in the country.
“We would continue to help in the humanitarian assistance in the North, for those who are suffering and we would try to write another chapter of the history of illicit asset recovery and restitutions from Switzerland to Nigeria,” Burkhalter said
“There is a history, 10 years ago, we repatriated 700 million U.S. dollars Abacha looted fund, and now there is a possibility that in principle another 321 million U.S. dollars will be returned soon.
“And for our government it is very important to act swiftly, to act in a transparent way and act for the good of the population of Nigeria.
According to him, if we sign a treaty very swift and possibility to support social projects in Nigeria, with the monitoring of the World Bank the money would be repatriated.
The envoy said that the time to repatriate the fund “depends on the capacity of our finding the solution to the conditions that are set.
“That means if we found a good solution with a good treaty between Nigeria and Switzerland.