NIGERIA: Supreme Court dismisses appeal to unfreeze Abacha’s foreign accounts

Former Nigerian Head of State, Sani Abacha

The Supreme Court on Friday struck out an appeal filed by the family of the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, who had prayed for an order unfreezing some bank accounts of the late dictator and other members of the family held in the UK, Switzerland, Jersey, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.

Justice Amina Augie, who read the lead judgment prepared by Justice C.C. Nweze, affirmed the concurrent decisions of the lower courts.

Ms Augie said, “according to the admitted evidence, I have no limitations in affirming the concurrent decisions of the lower courts and the appeal is hereby dismissed.”

She held that it was too late for the Abacha family to query the decision taken by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1999.

The appeal was against the decision of Justice A.M. Liman of the Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna in a Ruling delivered on Oct. 21, 2005 overruling a notice of preliminary objection of the Appellants.

The Swiss government on February 16, 2005, pledged to hand over the sum of $458 million out of the $508 million of the Abacha assets.

The family prayed the lower court to declare the said grant by the government of Switzerland to transfer the family’s cash assets in their companies null and void and contrary to the African and United Nations charter on Human Rights.

The Abacha family also appealed the decision of the Federal High Court, Kano at the Court of Appeal, Kaduna.

But in its judgment on December 15, 2009, the appellate court upheld the decision of the trial court and dismissed the appeal, a decision he again appealed to the Supreme Court, which the apex court also dismissed .

Other members of the Supreme Court’s five-member panel that heard the appeal include Justices Olukayode Ariwoola, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Augie and Paul Galumje. They all agreed with the lead judgment as written by Justice Nweze.


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