The Nigeria’s readiness to help the Gambia recover the national wealth stolen by ousted President Yahya Jammeh is yet another manifestation of Africa’s giant nation’s commitment to stand by a country that is struggling to undo the wrongs of 22 years of dictatorship.
Mr. Jammeh, whose military junta forcibly seized power in a 1994 coup, accused the Jawara government of entrenching corruption and flamboyant lifestyle at the expense of Gambian taxpayer. Jammeh was found to be more corrupt and flamboyant that the head of a government he had overthrown. Apart from owning hundreds of houses in the country and abroad, the ousted leader teamed up with others to siphon national wealth. He had emptied national coffers during his last days in office, leaving the country with less than a month’s import cover.
Jammeh is believed to have stolen over $50 million from the national coffers.
The assurance by Nigerian Ambassador Oluwasegun Ibidapo-Obe assurance that Nigeria government would support the Gambia recover Jammeh’s stolen assets has raised hopes. This assurance followed that of the World Bank. A commission of inquiry that probes into the financial malpractices of the former President two weeks ago froze his (Jammeh’s) and those of his close business associates. Yahya Jammeh was one of the poorest Gambians when he took over power in 1994. But he had become richer that the state at the time of losing elections on December 16, 2016.
It takes several years of arduous efforts before countries recover ill-gotten wealth outside their jurisdiction. After 19 years of efforts, Nigerian had recently concluded negotiation with Switzerland on the return of $321 million recovered from the late Abacha family. The country had just recovered $85 million from the controversial Malabu Restrained Funds from the United Kingdom.