The Supreme Court has again refused the request by Ali Abacha, a brother to the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, to unfreeze accounts traced to him and other family members.
The accounts are in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Jersey, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.
In 2020, another $312 million tranche of Abacha loot was repatriated from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey to Nigeria.
Delivering judgement on Friday, a five-man panel led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta unanimously held that Ali Abacha’s case was statute barred as at April 2004 when it commenced at the Federal High Court in Kaduna.
The judgment was in the appeal marked: SC/359/2010 filed by Ali Abacha.
In the lead judgment prepared by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, and read by Justice Ejembi Eko, the court recalled that it dismissed a similar appeal in its February 2020 judgment.
The apex court said it had no reason to depart from its reasoning in the case brought then by Abba Mohammed Sani on behalf of the Abacha family.
The judges observed that in the current appeal, Reuben Atabo, who was the previous appellant’s counsel, is the same lawyer.
“No new superior arguments were proffered here to warrant a departure from the decision in the case of Alhaji Sani, earlier decided. This appeal fails, and it is hereby dismissed”, they declared.
In 2004 at the FHC, Kaduna, Ali Abacha challenged the 1999 decision by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, through the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi (SAN), to request the freezing of all accounts traced to the late Abacha, his family members and relatives in the five countries.
In his judgment of September 24, 2004, Justice Mohammed Liman upheld his claims and granted all the reliefs sought.
But in a July 19, 2010 judgement in an appeal marked: CA/K/71/2005, Justices John Inyang Okoro, Baba Alkali Ba’aba and Mohammed Lawal Garba of the Court of Appeal, Kaduna, were unanimous in holding that the suit was statute barred.
They set aside the judgment by Justice Liman, causing Ali Abacha to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
In its February 1, 2020 judgment in the initial appeal, marked: SC68/2010 by Abba Mohammed Sani, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court ruled that it was too late for the Abacha family to query government’s decision taken in 1999.
Justice Chima Nweze, who wrote the panel’s lead judgment, held that in view of the evidence, the earlier decisions of the Federal High Court, Kano, and the Court of Appeal, Kaduna, that the suit was statute barred had been upheld.
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