France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, during her one-day visit to Nigeria, spoke to journalists in Abuja on Friday.
Catherine Colonna said that in response to the request submitted by the Nigerian Ministry of Justice and in agreement with the US Administration, France has agreed to return the stolen funds by General Sani Abacha as grants for developmental projects.
“I also informed President Tinubu… France will return to Nigeria the assets stolen from the Nigerian people by General Sani Abacha and his family, which have been frozen in France since 2021,” she said.
President Bola Tinubu expressed his gratitude to France for the return of $150 million stolen from Nigeria by former Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
“Thank you for the good news on the return of Abacha loot. We appreciate your effective cooperation concerning the return of Nigeria’s money. It will be judiciously applied in attaining our development objectives,” the President told Catherine Colonna, the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, who delivered the news.”
The President commended the strengthening of bilateral relations between Nigeria and France, highlighting the successful recovery of another tranche of Abacha loot.
In addition to the Abacha loot recovery, President Tinubu acknowledged the signing of a €100 million agreement between Nigeria and France to support the i-DICE program.
This Federal Government initiative aims to promote investment in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Creative Arts Industries.
The agreement was signed by Dr. ‘Bosun Tijani, the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Technology, and the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs.
President Tinubu emphasized the need for reinforced collaboration on both political and economic fronts.
He welcomed the growing cooperation between the two countries in areas of shared interest, including climate change, economic integration, education, and culture.
In recent years, Nigeria has successfully recovered millions of dollars stolen by the former head of state, Gen. Sani Abacha, a notorious kleptocrat who was listed by Transparency International among the world’s worst state official thieves, alongside Indonesia’s Suharto and Mobutu Seko of Zaire (now DR Congo).
Gen. Abacha is believed to have embezzled between three and five billion dollars, primarily from Nigeria’s oil resources.