Nigeria’s President Tinubu Thanks France for Abacha Loot Return and Strengthened Relations

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Nigeria's President Tinubu Thanks France for Abacha Loot Return and Strengthened Relations
France Returns Abacha Loot: President Tinubu Expresses Gratitude

President Bola Tinubu expressed his gratitude to France on Friday in Abuja for the return of $150 million that had been stolen from Nigeria by former Head of State, General Sani Abacha.

In addition to the recovered Abacha loot, President Tinubu acknowledged the signing of a €100 million agreement between Nigeria and France to support the i-DICE program, a Federal Government initiative aimed at promoting investment in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the Creative Arts Industries.

The agreement was officially signed by Dr. ‘Bosun Tijani, the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Technology, and the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs during a prior event at Tafawa Balewa House, the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

President Tinubu lauded the strengthening of bilateral relations between Nigeria and France, highlighting that this progress had occurred following his visit to Paris after his inauguration.

Expressing his appreciation, President Tinubu told Catherine Colonna, the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, who delivered the news, “Thank you for the good news on the return of Abacha loot. We appreciate your effective cooperation concerning the return of Nigeria’s money. It will be judiciously applied in attaining our development objectives.”

The President emphasized the importance of reinforcing collaboration on both political and economic fronts, welcoming the growing cooperation between the two countries in areas of shared interest, such as climate change, economic integration, education, and culture.

Regarding the situation in Niger Republic, President Tinubu, who serves as the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, assured that Nigeria was closely monitoring the situation in the neighboring country and exploring diplomatic channels to prevent bloodshed. He said, “Leadership is about responding to the needs of the people; their cries, and their frustrations. Nigeria shares a border with Niger across seven Nigerian states, most of which are densely populated. Therefore, I need to guide ECOWAS carefully and steadily so that we manage our anger carefully. We have a colleague and a democratically-elected leader, President Bazoum, being used as a human shield. If we are not careful, he and his family can be endangered. I am deploying all appropriate back-channel strategies to avoid bloodshed in Niger Republic. We recognize the wishes of our people; they do not want war, but that does not mean we cannot take bold and decisive action.”

President Tinubu affirmed that Nigeria would continue to mobilize international partners in the determined pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the situation in Niger Republic.

The French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs conveyed President Emmanuel Macron’s goodwill and expressed France’s readiness to expand mutually beneficial collaboration with Nigeria across multiple sectors. She extended a formal invitation to President Bola Tinubu to attend the upcoming Paris Peace Forum.

Regarding the Abacha loot, the French Presidential Envoy noted that the repatriation had followed the completion of legal processes. She said, “It was a long process, but we are glad that it was concluded. Sometimes, justice may be slow, but this is a very good achievement.”

Ms. Colonna also commended President Tinubu’s leadership in ECOWAS, stating, “We support your efforts at ECOWAS. We are behind you because we believe that constitutional order is a treasure for all countries, and democracy must be a reality.”

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