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Lai Mohammed Nigeria
Informations Minister Lai Mohammed says that most of the money was in foreign currencyImage: picture-alliance/dpa/S.Alamba

Nigeria says it has seized billions in stolen cash

Darko Janjevic (Reuters, AP, AFP)
June 4, 2016

Officials in Nigeria say they have recovered billions of dollars previously lost to corruption. The seizures are part of an anti-corruption drive targeting dozens of politicians and top military commanders.


The Nigerian government has recovered $580 million (510 million euros) in cash and seized other funds and assets worth an additional $9.7 billion, Nigerian Information Minister Lai Mohammed announced on Saturday.

Nigeria has also claimed farmlands, plots of land, vehicles and maritime vessels since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power a year ago.

"All these are monies recovered from individuals and entities who had either hidden, stolen, diverted or were in possession of monies belonging to the nation," Lai Mohammed's special adviser Segun Adeyemi told the Reuters news agency.

In addition, the government was still waiting to recover some $341 million from Nigerians in Switzerland, the UK, the US, and the United Arab Emirates, according to a statement cited by the Guardian Nigeria newspaper.

The authorities, however, did not disclose names of parties whose funds or assets were seized.

Billions for bribes

The move is a part of an anti-corruption drive started by Buhari, who vowed to fight corruption after taking office in May last year. He has complained that the state coffers were "virtually empty" when he rose to the top job, despite massive oil trade.

Hundreds of people have been arrested over corruption, including politicians, army generals, and a national security advisor to Buharu's predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan.

Prosecutors claim that the advisor, Sambo Dasuki, illegally diverted $2.1 billion earmarked to fight the Boko Haram jihadists. Dasuki told a court that Jonathan demanded that the money should be used to bribe party officials and help him win his party's presidential nomination.

Dasuki's financial director, Shuaibu Salisu, told a court that $47 million in cash was transported in 11 suitcases from the Nigerian Central Bank to Dasuki's house.

Government critics accuse President Buhari of using the crackdown to conduct a political witch hunt.

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