Supreme Court denies Abacha’s family access to frozen foreign accounts

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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed another suit filed by the Sani Abacha family seeking access to the looted funds which they and the late Nigerian dictator stashed in Swiss and other foreign bank accounts.

The suit filed in the name of Ali Abacha, was dismissed by a five-man panel led by Sylvester Ngwuta for lacking in merit.

Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, a Justice of the Supreme Court, who prepared the lead judgment, held that Mr Ali Abacha’s case was not different from that of a son of the ex-dictator, Abba Mohammed Sani, which was earlier dismissed by the apex court on February 7, 2020.

Ms Kekere-Ekun, whose judgment was read by another Justice of the apex court, Ejembi Eko, on Friday, said, “It is pertinent to state at this juncture that a case with the same facts and issues was decided recently by this court in SC. 68/2010 Alhaji Abba Mohammed Sani Vs the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

“Judgment was delivered on February 7, 2020. It is now reported in (2020) 2-3 SC (Pt. II).

“Although the appellants are different, the facts and issues in contention are the same. Both had their bank accounts in Switzerland and other countries frozen as result of the authorisation given to the Swiss law firm by the respondents.

“In the earlier case, the contention was also that the respondents acted outside the scope of their duties under a repealed law and were therefore not entitled to seek refuge under section 2(a) of the Public Officer Protection Act.”

She held that as in Abba Sani’s case, the Ali Abacha’s matter too had become statute-barred and incompetent because it was not filed at the trial court within three months of the occurrence of the action complained about, thereby flouting section 2(a) of the Public Officer Protection Act.

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