French Minister confirms $150m of Abacha’s stolen assets to be returned by France

Ms. Catherine Colonna, France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, announced the return of the seized funds on Friday during a press conference. She said she had informed President Bola Tinubu about it.

She said the fund will be given as a grant and that France will discuss with Nigeria how to use it for development projects that benefit the people, according to Nigeria’s priorities.

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 US Administration, France will return to Nigeria the assets stolen from the Nigerian people by General Sani Abacha and his family that have been frozen in France since 2021. We will start discussions with the Nigerian administration in order to allocate these 150 million US dollars to development projects benefiting the population, according to the priorities of the Nigerian government.”

She also said that France has invested more than €10 billion in Nigeria.

She said, “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 centres. Our goal for the coming years is to further increase these investments in Nigeria, as well as the investments of Nigerian companies in France.

“The French Government also invests directly in Nigeria through financing from the French Development Agency (Agence française de développement, AFD).

“Since 2010, we have mobilised close to three 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 recognised worldwide and have 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.

“I signed this morning, with the Minister of Finance, an investment agreement for an amount of 100 million euros for the l-Dice programme, through which AFD is going to support Nigerian entrepreneurs in the 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.”

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