Abacha did not loot Nigeria’s money, Bamaiyi claims

Gen. Sani Abacha

Nigeria’s former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Ishaya Bamaiyi has described the infamous Abacha’s loot has a creation of the Nigerian media, stating that the former Nigerian head of state, General Sani Abacha, never looted the country’s treasury.

Bamaiyi spoke on Thursday at the launching of a tell-all memoir which covers his extensive military career in Abuja.

He insisted that, to the best of his knowledge, Abacha decided that funds should be kept in places where they could be easily accessed.

“I am not defending Abacha, I am not saying things did not go wrong,” Bamaiyi noted, adding that “What I know is that we sat down and agreed that the monies should be kept in a place so that we can have access to them. I don’t know if something else happened after that period.”

Bamaiyi’s account of Abacha’s handling of Nigeria’s treasury during his regime, which lasted between November 17, 1993, and June 8, 1998, contradicted the belief that the former Nigerian strongman channeled up to $2.2 billion from Central Bank of Nigeria, according to an AFP estimate, into private accounts.

To recover some of these funds, on March 8, 2016, Nigeria and Switzerland announced an agreement to return $321 million in public funds stolen by the former military ruler.

The agreement came after a meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, between Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and a Swiss delegation including the country’s foreign minister and ambassador.

Both countries said the “letter of intent” to return the money provided a framework to help recover other looted funds by corrupt officials and to determine how it would be spent once repatriated.

“We guarantee that recovered assets would be put to uses for which they have been intended,” Osinbajo said in a statement. “The framework will guarantee that returned assets will be used in the interest of the people of this country.”

The head of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter, said Switzerland was the first country to have returned a share of Abacha’s ill-gotten wealth.

Ten years ago, some $720 million was returned to Nigeria, he said in a statement on the Swiss foreign affairs website. The $321 million was initially deposited in Luxembourg but confiscated by a court in Geneva in December 2014.

But Bamaiyi who served under Abacha as the army chief said his late boss acted in good faith on behalf of the country and that he should be remembered as a patriot.

“If you remember, we had problems in Sierra Leone and Liberia once and it was monies from the Abacha regime that we used to buy weapons and ammunition to help the fight.

“I am happy that the former minister of finance said the money was not looted but things happened and when things happen like that and you are not there to defend yourself, rumours will just be flying,” he said.

“What I know is that things do happen and I know that Abacha did very well for the country. If we see him from the bad aspect, we should also look at his good aspect and remember him for the good things he did for the country. That is why I said Abacha loot is a media creation.”

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  • Aristotle

    What an idiot. Abacha wasn’t looting but rather was trying to deposit the funds in places where they can be handy to be withdrawn without due process or questions. And you are categorically telling us you both colluded to transfer monies belonging to the state into private bank accounts? Had the Chinese recipe for corrupt past leaders been applied to you, you wouldn’t be here today spouting such rubbish. Next we’ll hear Jeremiah Useni was as holy as a monk! Charlatans…

    • JOE

      Don’t mind the idiot . Animals in human skin

  • bigbang

    If that was true? Lol why is his family stopping Nigeria from getting the entire money back minus legal fees. Why is Abacha family keeping some of the money.

  • Abdullahi Edward Tomasiewicz

    Abacha was advised by Col. Gaddafi to hide funds overseas for emergency purposes based on the logic that his actions as head of state might offend the USA to the point where they initiated procedures to put sanctions on the financial activities of the country in which case it would be very difficult to effectively run the country and could lead to his overthrow by a disgruntled population.

  • Ebatamehi Eigbe

    Bamaiyi is only trying to key into the confusion some politicians have already created in Nigeria. If Bamaiyi says Abacha is clean, then he should be arrested and questioned.

  • Chukwu

    I blame our system that allows you to remain free. Had you been given Chinese or Singaporean treatment for corrupt practices, you wouldn’t be there to talk that rubbish. Anumanu.

  • pmagroup

    Hear him…….

    He insisted that, to the best of his knowledge, Abacha decided that funds should be kept in places where they could be easily accessed……………that means that you know all about the money as you believed to the best of your knowledge

    Hear him…….

    “I am not defending Abacha, I AM NOT SAYING THINGS DID NOT GO WRONG,” what are those things you knew that went wrong?

    Hear him…….

    Bamaiyi noted, adding that “What I know is that WE SAT DOWN and AGREED THAT THE MONIES SHOULD BE KEPT IN A PLACE SO THAT WE CAN HAVE ACCESS TO THEM. I don’t know if something else happened after that period.”


    When I read this I become more worried of that fact that, our money in offshore account is more to what is quoted, fact is that, when they agreed to keep the money in one account where everybody could be able to access it, that’s the BIG CAKE, where you go and slice and the next person will go and slice, nobody cares, because it was an agreement.

    When God created Nigeria, we were created as Nigeria, one country , the most black nation on this earth, God knows the reason, but the small elites among us is sitting on our blessing, they have failed to develop our country, of fears that if they do, there evils will be known, yes it will be known because what is happening in Nigeria is because we are in darkness, when there is light, there will be no room for corruption, even if it is there, the rate will not be high so as it is in Nigeria.

    I know that we can change, but the change is in our hands, that is when we decided to do the best for our country. Nigeria in this modern century should be on the top of the world, with our diverse culture, good weather, population, the quest to make out something out of nothing, humanity, the growth of Nigeria should have been one of the best in the world if we have a good leader, but we do not have a good leader.

    It is in our hands when we will put our differences aside, put our ethnicity aside and aspire for one great Nigeria for Nigerians which we knew that it was what we were before, I am of the believe that it is possible. If we have a good leader, whatever that is happening in Nigeria will not happen, the failures of those on top, ‘the Oga’s , is the reason of our failures.