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Supreme Court Dismiss Abacha Case Seeking End To Forfeiture Proceedings

Sani Abacha

Abacha’s appeal to the Supreme Court to stop the resumption of forfeiture proceedings was denied.

On Friday, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal made by members of the late General Sani Abacha‘s family. The appeal sought to halt efforts to reopen criminal forfeiture proceedings against the former head of state and some members of his family for their alleged involvement in the looting of the national treasury while Abacha was in office.

In a unanimous decision, the supreme court ordered that the parties bear the cost of the legal action and stated that the concurrent conclusions of facts and in the case are impregnable. Justice Emmanuel Agim read the decision.

Mohammed, the eldest surviving son of the late Abacha, and his brother Abba filed the appeal (for themselves and on behalf of the family of the late General Abacha).

The National Security Adviser (NSA), the Inspector General of Police (IGP), DCP P. Y. Hana (Chairman, Special Investigation Panel), the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), and Magistrate Sonja Nachbaur are listed as respondents (of the Principality of Liechtenstein).

The case is an appeal against the July 25, 2013, judgment of the Court of Appeal, Kaduna Division, which upheld the June 26, 2009 decision of the Federal High Court in Kaduna dismissing the Abacha family’s lawsuit for lack of locus standi (the legal capacity to approach the court on the subject matter of the suit).

The late General Abacha, members of his family, and several businesses connected to them were accused of illegal misuse of funds by President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 1999.

Based on the claims, the then-AGF, speaking on behalf of the Federal Government, asked the Principality of Liechtenstein’s government for mutual assistance and to start criminal forfeiture procedures against the Abacha family and the businesses in which they have stakes.

The Liechtenstein government asked for the court hearing to be moved at one point during the proceedings before the Princely Court of Liechtenstein to the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) in Nigeria so that Magistrate Sonja Nachbaur could interview some identified Nigerian witnesses for additional testimony.

DCP P. Y. Gana summoned witnesses to testify before Magistrate Nachbaur (a Magistrate of the Principality of Liechtenstein), who was to sit as a court in the territory of Nigeria, after the Nigerian government granted the request for the proceedings to be shifted to Nigeria.

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