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Musings From Abroad

Alert from heaven: Britain discovers $23 million ‘stolen fund’ by ex-Nigerian leader, Abacha

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Another round of loot by ex-Nigerian Military Head of State, Sani Abacha has been recovered. Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) says it has recovered more than $23 million stolen from Nigeria by the country’s late military dictator.

Sani Abacha was a Nigerian general who ruled as the military head of state of Nigeria from 1993 until his death in 1998 having seized power on 17 November 1993 in the last successful coup d’etat in the military history of Nigeria.

Transparency International alleged that Abacha stole between US$3 and $5 billion in public money during his time as Nigeria’s ruler.

In May 2020, Nigeria’s Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, in a statement said approximately $311,797,866.11 of the Abacha loot was repatriated from the US and Jersey.

The recovered fund forms part of a larger pool of funds identified by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as having been misappropriated by Abacha and his associates, the NCA said in a statement.

Asset Denial Senior Manager at the NCA, Billy Beattie, said “the NCA is committed to ensuring that the UK is not a safe haven for criminals to launder their proceeds of crime, and the civil recovery of assets is a powerful weapon in this fight,”

The $23 million were recovered after seven years of litigation and international negotiation pursued by the NCA, at the request of the DOJ, the statement said. The funds will be transferred to the DOJ.

An NCA spokesperson did not immediately respond to a query about whether the funds would ultimately return to Nigeria. In the past, countries including the United States and Switzerland have repatriated Abacha loot there.

Musings From Abroad

Italian firm, Eni signs $8 billion Libya gas deal as PM Meloni visits Tripoli

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With the aim of boosting energy supplies and other markets, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) signed an $8 billion gas production deal with Italian energy company Eni.

The deal, which comes despite the insecurity and political chaos in the North African country was signed during a visit to Tripoli by Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, aims to increase gas output for the Libyan domestic market as well as exports, through the development of two offshore gas fields.

Meloni met Libya’s Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, head of the internationally recognised Government of National Unity (GNU) in Tripoli for talks that also focused on migration across the Mediterranean.

At a joint news conference with Descalzi, the NOC chief, Farhat Bengdara, said the gas deal had a duration of 25 years and called it the most important new investment in Libya’s energy sector for a quarter of a century.

According to a statement by Eni’s chief executive, Claudio Descalzi, the output will begin in 2026 and reach a plateau of 750 million cubic feet per day.

“This agreement will enable important investments in Libya’s energy sector, contributing to local development and job creation while strengthening Eni’s role as a leading operator in the country.”

Since the beginning of the current Russia/Ukraine war, European countries have sought alternate gas sources outside Russia. Italy on its part has already taken a lead in sourcing gas from Algeria, building a new strategic partnership there that includes investment to help state energy company Sonatrach reverse years of declining output.

Libya is the fourth natural gas producer on the African continent, and oil and gas resources largely contribute to Libya’s export trade. The country developed a strong oil sector after major oil discoveries in the late 1950s.

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Musings From Abroad

EU chief, Josep Borrell, wants South Africa to influence ceasefire with Ukraine

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The regional bloc,  European Union wants South Africa to influence Russia to stop its ongoing war with Ukraine.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday raised expectations that the African country will use its good relations with Russia to convince it to stop the war in Ukraine.

Borrell, while speaking alongside South Africa’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor in the capital Pretoria, said “The EU isn’t asking South Africa to choose sides, just asking countries across the world to stand with the UN Charter.”

The EU considers South Africa an important partner in the rules-based international order, he added.

Pandor said: “It is not just South Africa and other African countries that must play a role in seeking peace.”

Full diplomatic relations between South Africa and Russia were established in 1942 as the Soviet Union. Russia has an embassy in Pretoria and a consulate-general in Cape Town. South Africa has an embassy in Moscow.

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