Nigerian Christian Leaders Seek for Return of Late Dictator's Millions

Nov 13, 2002 03:00 AM EST

Christian leaders in Nigeria are demanding the immediate repatriation of millions of dollars sent abroad by the late military dictator General Sani Abacha. The money, which church leaders say was "looted" from the Nigerian people, should have been returned to Nigeria under an agreement reached earlier this year between the government and General Abacha's family.

But the church leaders claim the general's son, Mohammed, has reneged on the deal, which have been linked to the Mohammed's release in September from prison, where he had been held on charges of embezzlement.

"Nobody is above the law, this looted money is our money, and the Abachas should not be allowed to get away with it," said Anglican Bishop Michael Ipinmoye of the Akure diocese in south-western Nigeria. "[Mohammed Abacha] should be re-arrested and made to refund the monies now. The government should not spare him at all, he should be made to account for all monies still in his custody."

General Abacha's death in 1998 paved the way for the restoration of democracy and, since then, the Nigerian government has been attempting to recover the money put in foreign banks by the general.

"President Olusegun Obasanjo was ill-advised to release Mohammed Abacha. He could have been made to refund all the monies stolen before he was released," Bishop Ipinmoye said.

By Albert H. Lee
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