In Abuja on Friday, Paris pledged to return $150 million of the frozen assets belonging to the late Gen. Sani Abacha. France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ms. Catherine Colonna, made this announcement during a press conference, stating that the return of the funds is intended to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Colonna explained, “France is committed to returning assets stolen from the Nigerian people by Abacha and his family, which have been frozen in France. We will initiate discussions with the Nigerian government to allocate these $150 million to development projects that will benefit the population, aligning with the priorities of the Nigerian government.”
This commitment was a response to a request made by the Nigerian Ministry of Justice to the French government. Colonna emphasized that over the past year, France has been actively strengthening its partnership with Nigeria and aims to take this collaboration further.
She mentioned her meeting with President Bola Tinubu, during which they discussed the state of their bilateral partnership and addressed major regional and global issues. She also expressed gratitude to President Tinubu for participating in the summit on a New Global Financing Pact held in Paris in June.
Colonna acknowledged the significant role of Nigeria in global governance and highlighted that Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, is also France’s primary trading partner in Sub-Saharan Africa. French foreign direct investments in Nigeria have doubled over the last decade, surpassing 10 billion euros. Over 100 French companies are operating in Nigeria, not only selling French products but also investing in the Nigerian economy, generating over 10,000 jobs in factories, farms, and vocational training.
She noted that the goal in the coming years is to further increase these investments in Nigeria and facilitate Nigerian companies’ investments in France. Additionally, the French government directly invests in Nigeria through financing from the French Development Agency.
Colonna’s visit to Abuja was focused on discussions surrounding the Franco-Nigerian partnership, particularly in the realms of culture and the creative industry within the Nigerian economy.”