By Yemi Adebowale
Contrary to claims by President Muhammadu Buhari that former Head of State, the late General Sani Abacha never stole, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has revealed that he left over N287bn in the national treasury, made up of $2bn, £100m and N10bn in cash and property, being the loot recovered from the late dictator, General Sani Abacha.
According to Obasanjo, the funds were paid into the treasury through the Central Bank of Nigeria before he handed over power to the late Umar Musa Yar’Auda on May 29, 2007.
Obasanjo’s disclosure was contained in the Vol. II of his memoir, My Watch and reviewed by Punch.
On the memoir, Obasanjo disclosed, “In total, by the time I left government in May 2007, over $2bn and £100m had been recovered from the Abacha family abroad, and well over N10bn in cash and properties locally. All were paid to the public treasury through the Central Bank.
“Enrico (Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer) told me by the time I left government that if he continued to get support for his work, there was still about $1bn he believed he could still recover from the Abacha family and cronies.”
The former President claimed that there was a time he got a report that £3m cash was seized from an agent of the late military dictator by customs officials at an airport in UK and that the British authorities asked the Nigerian government to prove ownership of the money.
“I went to London to have a meeting on another important issue with (former British Prime Minister) Tony Blair and I took the opportunity to raise the issue of the £3m, using the Yoruba anecdote of the thief who stole palm oil from the ceiling cupboard by getting somebody to help him so as not to spill the red palm oil on himself or the floor. The man who assisted became an accomplice. Tony got the message and the £3m was released to Nigeria the following day,” Obasanjo explained.