By Bukar Bolori
France on Friday said it would be returning $150 million General Sani Abacha loot back to Nigeria.Abacha reign over Nigeria between 1993 and 1998 when his rule was terminated as a result of untimely death.
Twenty years after his reign, loot stacked abroad continued to surface with Nigerian government already recovered hundred of millions of dollars.
The visiting France Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ms. Catherine Colonna while addressing a press conference, said she has informed President Bola Tinubu about the planned return of the seized fund.
She noted that the stolen fund will be returned to the country in form of grant, while revealing that discussion will soon be opened with the Nigerian government on the areas to invest the fund.
She said: “I also informed President Tinubu that in response to the request submitted by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Justice, and in agreement with the USAdministration, France will return to Nigeria the assets stolen from the Nigerianpeople by General Sani Abacha and his family, that have been frozen in Francesince 2021. We will start discussions with the Nigerian administration in order to allocate these 150 million US dollars to development projects benefiting thepopulation, according to the priorities of the Nigerian government.”
She said France has invested over €10 billion in Nigeria in the last ten years while over 100 French Companies doing business in the country, creating over 10,000 jobs.
She said: “Over the last ten years and now exceed 10 billion euros. More than 100 French companies are already working here. They do not simply sell French products: they invest in Nigeria’s economy, creating jobs (10 000 jobs as we speak), factories, farms and vocational training centers. Our goal for the coming years is to further increase these investments in Nigeria, but also the investments of Nigerian companies in France.
“The French Government also invests directly in Nigeria, through financing fromthe French Development Agency (AFD, Agence française de développement).
“Since 2010, we have mobilized close to 3 billion euros to support the emergence of Nigeria. AFD is carrying out projects in 26 out of the 36 States of Nigeria. We are financing infrastructure, rural roads, marketplaces, urban transportation and water supply, but also a large number of SMEs and local start-up incubators. We are also investing more and more in vocational training for the youth.
“Our main priority for the coming years is to support even further cultural and creative industries in Nigeria.
“They are already recognized worldwide, and have a huge potential to be developed. We support creators and entrepreneurs in the fields of animation, video games, music, fashion and design, to help them tap into international markets. l signed this morning with the Minister of Finance an investment agreement for an amount of 100 million euros, for the l- Dice program, through which AFD is going to support Nigerian entrepreneurs in digital and creative industries, We provide financing, expertise, but also exposure in France and in our outstanding Cultural network in Nigeria, including the French Institute in Abuja and 10 Alliances Francaises.”