by Musa Abdullahi
The Swiss government Monday revealed that $370 million of Nigeria’s money allegedly looted by the former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha has been traced to Luxembourg.
The Switzerland Ambassador, Hans Rudolf Hodel revealed this when he paid a courtesy call on the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari at the Defence House, Abuja.
Also at the Defence House, an oil magnet, Prince Arthur Eze stated that with the coming of Buhari as president, the oil companies that had left the shores of Nigeria would come back.
Arthur Eze came in company of the the Managing Director of Total Upstreams and the Chairman of the Oil Producer Trade Section (OPTS), Mrs. Elizabeth Proust to pay a courtesy call on Buhari.
Arthur Eze fielding questions from journalists said: “We are glad that General Buhari is one of the most disciplined leaders that we have in Africa and particularly in Nigeria. He is going to organize this country so that you will not see all these poor people again. Things will change in this country. It is God that gives power, and God has given it to Buhari.
“He is coming to change our economy especially the oil sector, as you can see, most of the oil companies who left Nigeria are now coming back.”
Asked why he visited Buhari, when he was a close associate of President Jonathan, he said: “You know General Buhari has been President of Nigeria and also a former oil minister. He knows the oil industry very well; he is a man who has ability to take a decision. He has been in the system for a very long time, that is why God brought him back. Everyone of us is supporting him because God has giving him power”.
The Swiss Ambassador speaking on corruption, said: “This is a long standing issue. Our laws are there to help all countries which are fighting corruption. We will help this government. If you remember, many years ago we gave back the Abacha money to Nigeria. The situation in Switzerland has changed. The policy is no longer the same. In the past people come to deposit money in Switzerland without too much controversy. Now, it is not possible to deposit money in Switzerland because of legal origin. Before banks had to prove that the money is illegal. But now, before you deposit money in a Swiss bank, you have to prove that you have earned that money legally. If you are a wealthy businessman, you have money in billions legally, but if, for example as a journalists you come to Switzerland with $2 million and say you earned it because you did a very good job, nobody will believe you”.
Asked if there was any Nigerian money in Switzerland needed to be refunded, the Ambassador said: “None that I know. Recently, there was another request by Nigeria to the Swiss authority to look for Abacha money and some amount has been found in an account in Luxembourg. That is now between the Abacha family and the government. They have tried to find a deal so that this money can also come back. The recent one is 370 million dollars.
On how soon the money would be released, he said: “The Swiss government is not involved. The Nigerian government has asked for legal assistance. When the government makes a request to my government, we work together on it. But this case is different. That is the Abacha family directly with the Nigerian government finding a deal. So, the Swiss government is not involved and the money is in Luxembourg. They have asked for legal assistance and we have provided them with this information. It is not a classical case and we would have prefer a classical case where we can give the money back and make sure that it is used in the interest of the people. Now it is up to the Nigerian government”.
The Cuban Ambassador, Mr Carlos E. Trejo Sosa, who also visited to congratulate the President-elect stated that his country would collaborate with Nigeria in many areas.