The Government of Ireland has reached a deal to give back to Nigeria 5.5 million euros ($6.5 million) looted by former military dictator General Sani Abacha.
The Irish Minister for Justice and Equality, Helen McEntee, said the return of the asset followed a forfeiture order by a high court in Ireland in 2015.
McEntee also disclosed that the asset were frozen in a Dublin-based bank account by her country’s anti-graft agency, Criminal Assets Bureau, in 2014. This was after a team of legal representatives from Nigeria approached the Irish government regarding the return of the loot.
“I am very pleased to sign this Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and Nigeria,” the minister said on Thursday in a statement published on the Irish government website.
“This represents the culmination of a long process which began with an internationally led investigation. The Criminal Assets Bureau took part in this international operation which led to the freezing of over $1 billion in funds worldwide, of which approximately €5.5 million was identified in a Dublin based bank account.”
The agreement comes as Nigeria scrambles for cash to fill holes that have opened up in its budget as the coronavirus pandemic hammers oil prices.
In May, Nigeria received just over $300 million in Abacha funds from the United States and the British dependency of Jersey, despite concerns raised by a powerful U.S. senator that it could be misappropriated.