LAGOS, May 5 (Reuters) - Nigeria will spend $311 million returned after being stolen by former military ruler General Sani Abacha on infrastructure development, a presidency spokesman said on Tuesday.
The United States and the British dependency of Jersey agreed with the Nigerian government in February to repatriate money that Abacha, who died in 1998, had stashed in their banks.
Nigeria’s attorney general said on Monday the funds had been received following an agreement requiring the money go towards infrastructure projects, and if any cash was diverted Nigeria could be required to replace it.
Poor infrastructure has long held back development in Africa’s biggest economy, where the statistics office estimates 40% of the country’s 200 million people live in poverty.
Garba Shehu, a spokesman for the president, said on Twitter the money would be used for road and power projects.
“These funds have already been allocated, and will be used in full, for vital and decades-overdue infrastructure development: The second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressways,” said Shehu, referring to a river crossing in the southeast and roads connecting major cities.
In another tweet, he said part of the money would be invested in the 3,050 megawatt Mambilla hydroelectric plant, which has been planned for over three decades.
Abacha ruled Nigeria from 1993 until he died in 1998. Corruption watchdog Transparency International estimates he stole as much as $5 billion of public money during that time, though he was never charged with corruption while he was alive. (Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Giles Elgood)