Documents exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters reveals that former military ruler, Sani Abacha, gave millions of dollars in public funds to leaders of the Anglican Church of Nigeria during his brutal reign.
Mr. Abacha's regime was marked by draconian decrees, the I incarceration or hanging of dissidents, most famously Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 8, as well as massive corruption.
Before his death in June 1998, Mr. Abacha had squandered hundreds of millions of dollars to buy political support for his plan to succeed himself as a civilian president.
The documents obtained by SaharaReporters reveal that Sani Abacha approved $5 million to fund the leaders of the Anglican Church of Nigeria on a trip to the 1998 Lambeth Conference in London. The Lambeth Conference is a gathering of Anglican leaders from around the world that takes place every ten years.
The documents reveal that more than $1 million of the fund was delivered specifically to Peter Akinola, the then Anglican Archbishop of Abuja.
Ismaila Gwarzo, the National Security Advisor (NSA) under Sani Abacha, was the liaison for the head of state in the delivery of $1,021,388 to Archbishop Akinola, the documents reveal.
The funds were delivered “in the usual manner,” the document disclosed, via the Special Services Office. Mr. Gwarzo initially sent the money to his aide, Haliru Suleiman, who at the time worked in the Special Services Office of the Federal Secretariat in Abuja. Mr. Gwarzo then “called the Lord Archbishop of Abuja, Bishop Peter Akinola, to receive the money personally from Gwarzo’s aide."
The transaction reportedly took place in the office of Anthony Ani, the Finance Minister in the Abacha regime, according to Mr. Ani’s own testimony.
Archbishop Akinola claimed to have handed over the more-than-$1 million fund to the Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Archbishop J. Abiodun Adetiloye, who had reportedly requested for the funds from Mr. Abacha's regime to assist Nigeria's Anglican bishops in attending the decennial conference.