A day after Sadiq Abacha, son of former Nigerian military dictator, late General Sani Abacha directed a tirade at Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka for criticizing his father’s reign of terror and corruption, a 42-page document detailing the scale, spread and ruthlessness with which the late dictator — in collusion with his associates — stole billions of dollars during his military presidency has been obtained.
Tendered at the United States District Court of Columbia by the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice, the document is damning. It also implicated the late son of the ruler, Ibrahim Abacha; his second son, Mohammed Abacha; his associate, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; former National Security Adviser (NSA), Ismaila Gwarzo; associate of the Abacha family, Alhaji Ahmadu Daura; then Minister of Finance, Chief Anthony Ani; lawyer and associate of the Abacha family, David Umaru, in the use of phony offshore companies to divert billions of dollars of Nigerian state funds into their private accounts in-country, and overseas.
The document alleges that in one instance, Abacha, Mohammed, Bagudu, and others, systematically embezzled public funds worth billions of dollars from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the false pretence that the funds were necessary for “ national security”. After the CBN dispersed the funds, Abacha and Bagudu moved them overseas. The document revealed that in all, more than $2bn was stolen from CBN alone.
The documents further revealed that the standard practice the late General used was for his NSA, Gwarzo, acting on Abacha’s instruction, to send letters to the military president requesting millions of U.S. dollars, British pounds sterling, and Nigerian naira, in order to address unstated “emergencies” against Nigeria’s national interests.
Abacha then signed off on the letters, and forward them to the CBN, which was then forced to disburse the funds in cash, traveller’s checks, or through wire transfers.
(These actions contravened the due process requiring the approval of both the minister of finance, and the accountant-general of Nigeria).
They then stashed the monies in accounts in Europe that were under their control, such as the Rayville and Standard Alliance accounts, at Banque SBA, the Eagle Alliance, and Mecosta accounts at ANZ (London), and the Mecosta account at Standard Bank.
In all, Abacha endorsed well over 60 false security-vote letters, each of which resulted in the withdrawal of huge sums of money from the CBN. The monies were then deposited in accounts controlled by Abacha, or any member of the syndicate, or used to purchase assets for their benefit.
At other times, Gwarzo — or men acting on his instructions — repackaged the monies in secure bags, and delivered it to Abacha, who (either personally or through proxies,) delivered over $700 million of such funds to his son, Mohammed, in bags or boxes full of cash. Mohammed, in turn, transferred the cash to Bagudu, who transferred them to foreign accounts controlled by Bagudu and Mohammed.
In another instance, Abacha and Ani made the government purchase non-performing government debt from a company controlled by Bagudu and Mohammed Abacha at vastly inflated prices, thereby generating a windfall of over $282 million. They also extorted more than five million dollars from a French company and its Nigerian affiliate in connection with payment on government contracts.
Abacha and company also stole huge amounts of money through the debt buy-back fraud, with which they defrauded Nigeria of more than $282 million by causing the government of Nigeria to repurchase its own debt from one of their companies for more than double what Nigeria would have paid to repurchase the debt on the open market.
He dominated the economy, exercising plenary control over government contracting, award of oil and gas concessions, and other lucrative government benefits. In November 1993, for example, he stopped payment on Nigerian government contracts with foreign companies, including the Dumez Group, a French civil engineering firm. Although the Dumez Group later restructured itself as a Nigerian-based company, Dumez Nigeria Limited (Dumez), it was unable to collect approximately $469 million in connection with these contracts.
“Umaru, an attorney and associate of the Abacha family, advised the owners of Dumez that payments could be restarted if they agreed to kick back 25 percent of those payments to the Abacha family. Dumez agreed. Dumez entered into an agreement with Allied Network LTD, a Nigerian corporation created by Umaru to receive kickbacks for Abacha family members”, read a part of the document.
“Allied Network LTD was listed under “Mohammed Sani,” and “Abba Sani”, which referred to Mohammed Abacha and his brother, Abba Abacha. In December, Umaru opened an account in the name of Allied Network LTD at Union Bancaire Privee (UBP) in Geneva, Switzerland. This account was used to funnel kickback payments to the Abacha organization. Dumez also opened an account at UBP to receive the payments from the Nigerian government, once they were restarted.
“Between August 16, 1996 and May 22, 1998, the CBN transferred to the Dumez account at UBP in Geneva. Of this amount, $97,375,543, or 25 percent, was then transferred by Dumez to Allied Network LTD for distribution to members of the Abacha organization. In late 1997, Mohammed Abacha received a total of payments from Dumez. This payment was intended for Allied Network LTD, and to be transferred into defendant account number 38175076, held in the name of “Mohammed Sani” at Midland Bank London (now HSBC Bank Plc.), where it was co-mingled with $2.12 million in proceeds of the Security Votes Fraud that had previously been wired directly from the CBN into this account”.
A full version of the document — which demanded the forfeiture of all assets and companies traced to Abacha, and all his associates, and companies culpable in the series of embezzlements — is reproduced below: