The United States today said it had ordered a freeze on $458 million in assets hidden in European accounts by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and his conspirators.
The Justice Department said the corruption proceeds — stashed away in bank accounts in Britain, France and Jersey — were frozen at Washington’s request with the help of local authorities.
Last week, at a ceremony to mark the centenary of Nigeria’s formation by colonial lords, the Nigerian government headed by Goodluck Jonathan honoured Abacha, along with other past leaders for services rendered to Nigeria.
The award triggered an outpouring of outrage by Nigeria’s Nobel literature laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
Soyinka himself turned down the award given to him at the occasion.
In a rejection note headlined ”The Canonisation of Terror”, Soyinka observed that the inclusion of Abacha on the list does not only show a failure of a moral rigour but it calls into question ”the entire ethical landscape into which this nation has been forced by insensate leadership”.
He reminded those who have forgotten so soon that General Sani Abacha was a vicious usurper under whose authority the lives of an elected president and his wife—M.K.O and Kudirat Abiola— were snuffed out.
It was under Abacha, he said, that assassinations became routine, that torture and other forms of barbarism were enthroned as the norm of governance.