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Late Gen. Sani Abacha Loot: His Biography, Regime, Death and Loot Recovered

Late Gen. Sani Abacha Loot

Sources in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration had stated that the whole Abacha loot was a politicised by the administration for his re-election bid and since then Abacha loot has generated controversies on how much of the loot is recovered and how it is used.

General Sani Abacha’s Biography

Late General Sani Abacha who was the commander of 9thMechanized Brigade in 1983 came into the national limelight in his role in helping General Muhammadu Buhari topple the civilian government of President Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983 bloody coup.

General Sani Abacha GCFR who was born on September 20th, 1943 was a military head of state who served from November 17th, 1993 till his mysterious death on June 8th, 1998 was born in Kano City the capital of Kano State in north-central Nigeria and from the Kanuri tribe typically from Bornu State – North-East Nigeria. Abacha Loot is the first Nigeria soldier to attain the rank of a General without skipping a single rank. In 1965 he married Maryam Jiddah and had 10 children.

Young Sani Abacha had always dream of becoming a solder at a very young age and started his career at the Nigerian Military Training College in 1963 and further to England at the Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot and was commissioned to the Nigerian Army as a second lieutenant in 1963. Abacha who led the third Battalion Kaduna played a role in the counter-coup of 1966 and in 1971 attended the School of Infantry, Warminister and in 1976 the Nigeria Staff College, Jaji. He became a prominent figure in which gave power to General Muhammadu Buhari in 1983. According to BBC website, Sani Abacha fought in Nigeria’s Civil war against Biafran secessionists and continues to rise through the army ranks. He played a significant role in a palace coup that removed Gen Buhari from office and installed General Ibrahim Babangida on August 27th1985 and was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff.

Abacha Regime in Nigeria

Kunle Amuwo in his book (Nigeria during the Abacha Years (1993-1998)) noted that ”A major question that Nigerians and ‘Nigerianist’ did frequently pose under Abacha was …how id Nigeria, with her oft-cited structural constraints to imperial presidency fall into the hands of a military dictator who, with utmost impunity, did not set much store by the country’s future. In other words, which social forces threw up an Abacha, as well as a galaxy of political opportunists, whose composition and complexity almost made nonsense of politics as a public vocation, or politics as a contestation of ideas, values and principles in the public realm.”

It is widely speculated that what Bagangida started, Abacha depend and consolidated. August 1993 saw the then Major General Sani Abacha appointed as Minister of Defence after Babangida steps down and creates an interim government headed by a civilian President, Ernest Shonekan. Barely after 3 months in office, Shonekan resign in a widely believed coup which saw the transfer of powers to Sani Abacha which saw the following events:-

  • In 1994, the presumed election winner Chief Moshood Abiola declares himself president and is imprisoned.
  • Former Military Dictator Olusegun Obasanjo was imprisoned for treason and accused of plotting a coup with General Oladipo Diya while General Shehu YarÁdua died in prison
  • In 1995, Nigeria was suspended from The Commonwealth as a result of the execution of 9 environmentalist who protested against the activity of a Global Oil company (Royal Dutch Shell) and the government and those executed where termed as “Ogoni 9”, among them was Ken Saro-Wiwa, a poet and Noble Prize nominee.
  • Professor Wole Soyinka was charged in absentia with treason.
  • Major Hamza al-Mustapha led security forces cracked down on ruthlessly on criminals and dissidents.
  • Abacha Regime in Nigeria saw an increase in foreign exchange reserve from $494 million in 1993 to $9.6 billion by may 1997 and reduction in the external dept from $36 billion in 1993 to $27 billion by 1997.
  • Abacha Regime in Nigeria saw the construction of 25 100 km of urban roads in Kano, Lokoja, Zaria, Funtua, Aba, Kaduna, Enugu, Benin, Gusau, Port Harcourt and Lagos.
  • The GDP growth was higher than the 2.2% growth in 1995 and was largely limited to the petroleum sector.
  • In February 1998, Nigeria Armed Forces was deployed to Sierria Lone in a bid to restore a civilian government ousted in a military coup.

Abacha Vision 2010

The Sani Abacha Vision 2010 is a projected economic plan that Nigeria will among the first 20 economies in the world by the year 2010 was crafted in 1996 by over 300 stakeholders from all sphere of life including expatriates with a committee headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan. The Vision 2010 was abandoned by President Olusegun Obasanjo. The Areas of Concern included the following: –

 Abacha Vision 2010 Area of Concern

  • Politics – Political accountability, rule of law and a stable democracy with a federal system
  • Women inferiority – Women education due to the literacy rate of adult women
  • Unemployment – a large rate of unemployment in Nigeria
  • Infrastructure – Poor power and fresh water supply, telecommunication.
  • Corruption – A history of corruption by leaders at the expense of the people
  • Education – Improved educated population
  • Economy – Decrease on oil dependence while increasing GDP
  • Urbanisation – the development of rural areas


  • Devote over one-quarter of Nigeria’s budget to education
  • Institute and maintain democratic elections in the Forth Republic.
  • Increase in private sector to enhance competition.
  • If better education is promoted, work force can provide for more labor. Criminal activity and violence have resulted from a lack of youth education.
  • Increase in female education and subsequent job opportunity.
  • Money created should be allowed for infrastructural development.

Sani Abacha Cause of Death

No 1 Account: It was insinuated that General Abacha ate and died of poisoned apples

Hamza al-Mustapha Account: The former Chief Security Officer – CSO to the late Head of State stated that dead was as a result of the sudden collapse of the health system of Abacha which started on June 7th, 1998 at the Abuja International Airport after one of officials  who accompanied the then PLO leader Yasser Arafat shook hands with Abacha and the next day June 8th1998 around  6PM, his condition was severe until his doctor, Dr. Wali administered an injection to stabilise him and was advised to have a short rest. The then minister of the Federal Capital Territory who was a good friend hangout with him till about 3.35AM and at about 5:00AM it was reported that the Head of State was unstable by the security guards and the doctor two injections on the hear and another close to his neck after which the Head of State turned cold and was pronounced dead.

sanibabacha loot recovered
Sani Abacha Loot Recovered

Abacha Loot Fund

It is widely believed that Late General Sani Abacha encouraged corruption by stealing and stashing funds in offshore accounts and foreign bank accounts in the US, UK and in Europe. Transparency International stated that Abacha may have stole about $5Billion between 1993 and 1998 and successive government have made recoveries. Abacha loot fund were stashed away in four major countries: Jersey Island in United Kingdom, United States, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. 

Abacha Loot Recovered


  • During the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar in 1999, $750 Million was recovered.
  • $1.2 Billion was recovered under President Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2002.
  • $149 Million was recovered from Jersey Island in 2003.
  • $500 Million of Abacha loot recovered from Switzerland in 2004.
  • Another $458 million recovered in 2005 from Switzerland.
  • Under Jonathan administration, $1 Billion was recovered in 2012.
  • Abacha loot recovered in 2015 was $380 from Switzerland.
  • Jonathan administration again in 2014 received $227 of Abacha loot from Liechtenstein.
  • $48 Million was also recovered from the United State in 2014.
  • Buhari government in 2017 recovered $322 Million from Switzerland.
  • $308 Million was recovered from Jersey Island, United Kingdom in February 2020.


It was noted that in 2014, The family of Late Abacha agreed to forfeit several billions of dollars to the Nigerian Government as an agreement following the plea bargain to drop charges against the late dictator’s son.


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Written by Seth Brendan


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