Nigeria Seizes $10M From Ex-State Oil Manager

ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency says agents seized nearly $10 million from a safe in a slum building belonging to a former manager of the state oil company.

Spokesman Wilson Uwujaren of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says intelligence led to a raid last week on the building in northern Kaduna city, where agents uncovered “a staggering sum of 9,772,800. U.S. dollars and another sum of 74,000 pounds sterling cash.”

He says the loot was hidden in a fire-proof safe and has been claimed by building owner Andrew Yakubu, who was managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. from 2012 to 2014. Yakubu said the money was gifts, according to Friday’s statement from Uwujaren.

Yakubu is already awaiting trial on charges of money laundering.

Commission chairman Ibrahim Magu, meanwhile, said Thursday the agency had recovered $385 million worth of looted cash in 2016, listing different currencies at a hearing before a National Assembly budget committee.

It was unclear if agents had seized the cash or if it includes money that former Cabinet ministers and senior civil servants have voluntarily surrendered in hopes of avoiding prosecution.

Magu said the commission secured 135 convictions last year, though none have been of high-profile former Cabinet ministers or senior civil servants who have been accused of or charged with money-laundering and embezzling government funds.

President Muhammadu Buhari won office in 2015 partly on a campaign promise to rid the country of the endemic corruption that enriches Nigeria’s elite and keeps the average person impoverished in Africa’s most populous nation.

Hundreds of people have been detained.

Nigeria was Africa’s biggest oil producer until militant attacks on petroleum installations lowered production and allowed Angola to assume first place on the continent.

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