Mohammed Abacha — the son of late former Nigerian military dictator, General Sani Abacha — is facing fresh criminal lawsuit from the Federal Government for unlawfully taking possession of approximately N446.3bn stolen from government’s treasury between 1995 and 1998.
The latest lawsuit follows a decision by the Nigerian Supreme Court in January ordering the Nigerian government to file fresh charges against the dictator’s son. Also, the US Government recently froze assets belonging to the late dictator through its kleptocracy initiative.
In the nine-count charge filed by private prosecutor, Daniel Enwelum upon a fiat dated February 18th, 2014 by Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, the government accused Mohammed of “dishonestly receiving stolen property” and “voluntarily assisting in concealing money.”
This fresh charge substitutes an earlier 121-count filed against Mohammed and Atiku Bagudu — the late ruler’s ally. However, Bagudu was excluded from the fresh charge.
According to a new charge, dated March 24th, 2014, Mohammed hid £141,100,000 $384,353,000 in cash and travellers cheques.
Mohammed, in Count One, is alleged to have dishonestly received between August and December 1995 in Abuja, $36,480,000.00 made up of cash and travellers’ cheques — property of the Federal Government — believed to have been stolen.
In Count Two, he is alleged, between August and December 1995 in Abuja, to have voluntarily assisted in concealing $57,960,000.00 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government.
In another count, he was accused of receiving $26,913,500.00 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government, between October and December 1996.
He was also accused, within the same time, of voluntarily assisting in concealing $26,913,500.00 allegedly stolen from the Federal Government. Also in June 1997 in Abuja, he allegedly dishonestly received $10,000,000.00 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government.
Count Six accused him of dishonestly receiving, between February and December 1997, $87,000,000 and £41,143,000 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government.
Two other counts accused Mohammed of voluntarily assisting in concealing the amounts mentioned in count six, and dishonestly receiving (between January and August 1998), $167,000,000 and £99,957,000 believed to have been stolen from the Federal Government.
The alleged offences are punishable under sections 317 and 319 of the Penal Code.
Mohammed was to be arraigned on Thursday before Justice Mamman Kolo of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, but the accused was absent in court.
Nevertheless, Enwelum notified the judge of Mohammed’s unwillingness to turn up in court, despite having been served with the charge and with evidence to that effect in a an affidavit sworn to by bailiff of the court
He urged the court to accept the fresh charge and consider the receipt of the charge by the defence lawyer, Abdulllahi Haruna, as an appropriate service.
Haruna defended Mohammed’s absence, saying he was unaware of the new charge and imploring the court to adjourn the case to a further date to so that the accused would be present in court.
Justice Kolo accepted the amended charge, also granting an order discharging Bagudu from the charge. He adjourned the hearing to 29th April 2014.