Buhari, who served under the late Abacha as head of Petroleum Trust Fund, made this revelation in an article published in Newsweek, a United States-based publication.
Though Buhari did not mention Abacha’s name, it was clear that he was referring to the late dictator because he was quoted saying “close to $1bn was stolen under a previous, undemocratic junta in the 1990s.”
The president expressed appreciation to the “friendly nations” that returned the stolen funds back to Nigeria. He was quoted as saying:
“And we can now move forward with road, rail and power station construction — in part under own resources — thanks to close to a billion dollars of funds stolen from the people of Nigeria under a previous undemocratic junta in the 1990s that have now been returned to our country from the US, UK and Switzerland.
“That these friendly nations agreed to return these funds after so long is testament to the fact that Nigeria is rightly seen as an increasingly stable and beneficial place to transact and invest. It is much the same across the continent, with sub-saharan Africa now outpacing Asia, Europe and North America by some measure in terms of foreign direct investment inflows-to-GDP, perhaps for the very first time.”
KanyiDaily that on Monday, May 4, 2020, the President Buhari-led government received a sum of $311 million looted from the country’s treasury during the military regime of late Head of State.
Three days after, the United States Embassy in Nigeria revealed that there was another $319m (N121bn) stolen by Gen. Sani Abacha in the United Kingdom and France.
Hundreds of millions of dollars stolen by the late Abacha and kept in foreign accounts were also recovered by various Nigerian governments.
In 1998, General Abubakar Abdulsalami recovered $750m from the Abacha family.
In 2000, General Olusegun Obasanjo recovered $64m from Switzerland; still in 2002, Obasanjo got another $1.2bn from a deal with the Abacha family and another $160m in 2003 from Jersey, British Island. Obasanjo got another $88m in 2003, $461m in 2005 and $44 in 2006, all from Switzerland.
On his part, former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan retrieved $227m from Liechtenstein while President Buhari got $322 in 2018 and the last $311 in 2020.
However, a former ally of President Buhari who was also key figure in the Abacha’s administration, Buba Galadima claimed the late head of state did not loot the money as widely believed by Nigerians.
According to him, Abacha saved the monies abroad to save the country from an impending US sanction during his administration.