Lagos - Nigeria's late military ruler General Sani Abacha and his family stole $4,3-billion (R25,8-billion) from public funds during his four and a half years in power, the new civilian president told the Nigerian press on Tuesday.

The figure is the first given by the current government as an estimate of the total sum illegally transferred from public accounts by Abacha and his relatives and associates during his November 1993-June 1998 regime.

Speaking to reporters in Paris late on Sunday, President Olusegun Obasanjo said the Abacha family had directly siphoned $2,3-billion from the national treasury, awarded itself fake contracts worth a further $1-billion, and extorted another $1-billion from third party foreign contractors.

Switzerland last month announced it has frozen $645-million in bank accounts linked to the Abacha family and associates. - Sapa-AFP