SERAP Asks Buhari To Publish Details Of N800bn Recovered Loot

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to publish a comprehensive list of names of people from whom N800 billion looted funds have been recovered.

In a statement issued on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the group called on the President to direct the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed to ensure the recovered loot is published.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, SERAP noted that “publishing the details regarding the N800 billion recovered loot and investigating the alleged suspicious payments into personal accounts would be entirely consistent with fundamental principles of due process, and Nigeria’s international anti-corruption commitments.”

The organisation also wants the Federal Government to “direct appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly, thoroughly and transparently investigate allegations that payments totalling N51 billion were made into individual accounts in 2019.”

According to Oluwadare, “the information will also reveal the truth of where the money is going and why it is there, and allow Nigerians an opportunity to assess the impacts of any projects carried out with the recovered loot and the alleged payments into individual accounts.”

The letter, copied to Mr Malami and Mrs Ahmed, read in part: “The public has a right to know how recovered N800 billion loot has been spent, and the details and purpose of the alleged payments into individual accounts.”

“As a signatory to the UN Convention against Corruption, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Nigeria has committed to ensuring transparent management of public resources, and unhindered access to public information. These commitments ought to be fully upheld and respected.

“Transparency over transactions by the government is critical to ensuring public confidence in the integrity of the management of public resources. The authorities are required to set the highest standards of transparency, accountability, and probity in the management of these resources and the programmes that they oversee.

“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.

“Publishing the details of projects on which the N800 billion recovered loot has been spent and a comprehensive list of names of people from whom they have been recovered, as well as investigating allegations of payment of billions of naira into individual accounts, and the projects for which the payments were made, would also serve the best interests of the general public.”

Abacha Loot: Nigerian Govt Denies Planning To Pay Bagudu $100m

A file photo of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

 

The Nigeria government has denied reports that it is planning to hand over about $100 million of the money looted by former Head of State, Sani Abacha, to the governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu.

In court papers filed before the District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington DC, as reported by Bloomberg, the United States Department of Justice claimed that the payment was part of an agreement with the governor in 2018.

But the government clarified the controversy in a statement on Saturday from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

READ ALSO: PDP Asks National Assembly To Probe Buhari Administration Over Abacha Loot

Malami explained that the family assets of Governor Bagudu, in contention with the United States, was a separate cause.

He insisted that they have nothing to do with the assets recovered under the Abacha 2014 Non-Prosecution Agreement.

The minister highlighted the transparent management and utilisation of returned assets as core components of the government’s anti-corruption drive.

According to him, the present administration is committed to independent asset recovery efforts in a manner that is consistent with domestic laws, national interest and its obligations under international law.

Malami, however, stated that the US government and the Bagudu family have been in court since 2014 over assets already rescinded under the 2003 agreement.

He insisted that the government would continue to fight the menace of corruption and engage international partners in the recovery and return of stolen assets to the country.

The minister added that the 2020 agreement would be managed by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and monitored by the civil society organisations.

 

Read the full statement below:

WE ARE NOT COMMITTED TO PAYMENT OF $100M OUT ABACHA LOOT- MALAMI

The Federal Government of Nigeria is strongly committed, in principle and practice, to fighting the menace of corruption.

A core component of Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts includes the transparent management and utilisation of returned assets as well as independent asset recovery efforts in a manner consistent with its domestic law, national interest and its obligations under international law.

President Buhari remains the first President of Nigeria to make this commitment and has never and does not plan to deviate from these commitments contrary to statements in the media.

To achieve the President’s objectives, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has engaged and continues to engage with international partners, including the United States of America, in the recovery and return to Nigeria of stolen assets.

Nigeria and the United States of America are continually cooperating in the recovery and return of those assets.

This long-standing cooperation recently culminated in the successful signing of a memorandum of understanding for the repatriation of over $300 million looted assets associated with General Sani Abacha.

It is pertinent to recall at this juncture that prior to the 2020 agreement with the United States and the Island of Jersey, the Federal Government has signed an agreement for the return of over 300 million US dollars in 2017 which was effectively deployed for the purpose for which it was agreed to be applied without any issue of reputation

The FGN is also negotiating the recovery of assets from several countries and the agreements for the recoveries and the procedure for recoveries are always presented to Federal Executive Council for approval and duly made public once the processes have been concluded.

No third-party interest was captured in the Council memo that was approved by the Council.

The 2017 repatriated funds were deployed to the implementation of the Social Investment programme and are being monitored by civil society organisations across the country.

The 2020 Agreement which will be managed by Nigeria’s Sovereign Investment Authority, will also be monitored by civil society organisations and will be used to support the completion of critical road infrastructures, namely Abuja to Kano Road, Second Niger Bridge and the Lagos to Ibadan expressways.

These projects will support socio-economic development across the country.

Nigeria is also cooperating with the United States in the recovery of several other assets, including corruption proceeds linked to former Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke and her associates, and former State Governor James Ibori, as well as several others.

The government of President Buhari remained committed to the recovery of whatever funds are owed Nigeria and the government in that regard, has gone to court in different countries to assert its rights as a victim of corruption in order to have those assets returned to Nigeria.

In the same manner that Nigeria is asserting its rights to the assets, there are others, including individuals, entities, and countries who have rights and who have gone to court to contest the legality or otherwise of Nigeria’s claims against their assets.

It is well known that the USA and the Bagudu family have been in court since 2014 over assets already rescinded under the 2003 Agreement.

The matters are to be determined in the United Kingdom and the United States Courts.

The Bagudu family assets in contention, which constitutes a distinct and separate cause of action, does not have anything to do with the assets already recovered and being recovered under the Abacha 2014 non-prosecution agreement.

It is therefore mischievous and pedestrian for anyone to seek to turn the law and the facts on its head on the matter of repatriation whose terms are clearly spelt out and agreed among the parties.

The government of Nigeria remains fully committed to continued cooperation with the United States of America and other countries in a reciprocal manner.

We urge the media and the general public to wait for the outcome of the court decisions and ongoing settlement efforts in this matter.

Signed

Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu

(Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations

Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice)

Saturday 22nd of February, 2020

Abacha Loot: PDP Asks National Assembly To Probe Buhari Administration

Buhari Rejects Ajaokuta Steel Company Bill, Seven Others

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the National Assembly to save the nation by immediately undertaking a forensic probe of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

This comes against the backdrop of reports in which the United States Department of Justice alleged that the Nigerian government plans to hand over about $100m out of the money looted by late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha, to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu.

In a statement on Saturday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP decried the alleged huge corruption in the Presidency.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Govt Denies Planning To Pay Bagudu $100m From Abacha Loot

It claimed that the recent revelation has further exposed that the government has been living a lie – parading as saints with false anti-corruption posturing.

According to the main opposition party, the Presidency has been swimming in “a huge ocean of corruption and massive treasury looting”.

The statement said, “PDP’s call is predicated on the stinking reports by the US Department of State that the President Buhari-led Government plots to funnel the repatriated money to certain individuals connected to the Presidency, including a particular state governor allegedly involved in the initial looting of the money.

“The PDP says the report that the Buhari-led government has been blocking attempts to recover part of the looted funds traced to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, the Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors Forum, who was reportedly indicted by the US for allegedly helping in transferring billions of dollar out of the country during the military era, speaks volumes of the corruption and concealments going on in the Buhari Presidency.

“Moreover, further revelations in the report that instead of recovering the stolen money, the Federal Government is even in the process of funnelling $100 million (N36.3 billion) out of the looted funds to Governor Bagudu, highlights the humongous sleaze, duplicity, and treachery that pervade the Buhari administration.

“From the report, it is clear that the Buhari Presidency has further smeared itself, and no longer commands the trust and confidence of stakeholders within and outside the country in its fight against corruption.

“There are already apprehensions in the public space of huge complicity and patronising of corruption under President Buhari’s watch, which is directly responsible for our worsening corruption rating, a comatose economy, hardship, and untold suffering which have turned our nation into world’s poverty capital.”

The PDP, therefore, called on the National Assembly to redeem the image of the country by invoking its statutory instruments to order a forensic investigation into the handling of repatriated funds.

SERAP Gives FG Seven-Day Ultimatum To Disclose Details Of Recovered Abacha Loot

SERAP Asks Buhari To Probe Bribery Allegation Against Ganduje

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Federal Government to disclose within seven days, details of about $5 billion recovered from a former military head of state, Sani Abacha.

SERAP in a statement issued on Sunday said that it has sent two Freedom of Information requests to Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abukabar Malami, seeking the exact amount of public funds stolen and how much has been recovered since the return of democracy in 1999.

“We are concerned that substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been diverted, re-stolen or mismanaged, and in any case remain unaccounted for.

“Getting to the root of the exact amount of the Abacha loot and how the returned funds have been spent is important for the success of the government’s fight against grand corruption and would reassure Nigerians that the government is truly committed to ensuring full accountability for the alleged corruption and mismanagement in the spending of the funds.

“Disclose within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of our Freedom of Information requests the exact amount of public funds stolen by a former military head of state, Sani Abacha and details of spending of about $5 billion recovered loot since the return of democracy in 1999.”

READ ALSO: Permanent Secretary Abducted In Nasarawa

According to SERAP, failure by FG to provide the information requested will show signs of inconsistency and accountability to the general public.

“Any failure or refusal to provide the information requested will be clearly inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the FoI Act. The accountability of government to the general public is a hallmark of modern democratic governance, a norm of human rights and a tool to curb corruption.”

Read the FoI request below:

14 February 2020

Mrs Zainab Ahmed

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning

Ahmadu Bello Way, Central Business District
Abuja

Email: inf[email protected]

 

Dear Mrs Zainab Ahmed:

Re: FoI request to disclose details of spending of about $5 billion recovered stolen public funds by a former military head of state, Sani Abacha since the return of democracy in 1999

Scio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is writing pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) to request you to use your good offices and leadership position to urgently disclose details of spending of about $5 billion recovered stolen public funds by a former military head of state, Sani Abacha since the return of democracy in 1999, and the exact amount stolen by the late general.

We also urge you to disclose information on specific projects carried out with the Abacha loot, locations of any such projects and details of companies and contractors involved in the execution of the projects, details of all the agreements on the Abacha loot, the roles played by the World Bank and other similar actors, as well as the implementation status of all projects executed with the funds since 1999.

SERAP is a non-profit, nonpartisan, legal and advocacy organization devoted to promoting transparency, accountability and respect for socio-economic rights in Nigeria. SERAP received the Wole Soyinka Anti-Corruption Defender Award in 2014, and was nominated for the UN Civil Society Award and Ford Foundation’s Jubilee Transparency Award. SERAP serves as one of two Sub-Saharan African civil society representatives on the governing Committee of the UNCAC Coalition, a global anti-corruption network of over 380 civil society organizations (CSOs) in over 100 countries.

According to our information, a special panel set up on 23 July 1998 by the former head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar to probe the late military dictator General Sani Abacha stated that he stole over $5 billion between 1993 and 1998 when he was in power. Much of the stolen public funds have been returned to Nigeria.

The report by the panel shows that the government recovered some $635 million, £75 million, DM 30 million and N9 billion as well as several vehicles and properties in Abuja, Lagos and Kano together with 40% interests in West African Refinery in Sierra Leone. Other assets were recovered from the Abacha family and associates.

Furthermore, former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration also reportedly recovered over $2 billion of Abacha loot. Mr Obasanjo would seem to confirm this fact when he stated in the second volume of his book titled My Watch that: “by the time I left office in May 2007, over $2 billion and £100 million had been recovered from the Abacha family abroad, and N10 billion in cash and properties locally.”

Similarly, former President Goodluck Jonathan administration reportedly recovered $226.3 million and €7.5 Million from Liechtenstein. Some £22.5 million was also recovered from the Island of Jersey while $322 million and £5.5 million from the Abacha loot were reportedly returned to the government.

The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has also recovered several millions of dollars of Abacha loot since assuming office in May 2015, including $321 million from Switzerland, and $300 million from the US and Jersey.

We are concerned that substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been diverted, re-stolen or mismanaged, and in any case remain unaccounted for. SERAP is concerned that the allegations of corruption and mismanagement involving the use of Abacha loot may be responsible for the increasing level of grand corruption over the years and the entrenched impunity of perpetrators.

Getting to the root of the exact amount of the Abacha loot and how the returned funds have been spent is important for the success of the government’s fight against grand corruption and would reassure Nigerians that the government is truly committed to ensuring full accountability for the alleged corruption and mismanagement in the spending of the funds.

Publishing the details of projects on which returned Abacha loot has been spent since 1999 would allow the public to know the specific projects carried and the areas of the country in which the projects have been implemented as well as to know officials that may be responsible for any alleged diversion or mismanagement of the loot.

Any failure or refusal to provide the information requested will also be clearly inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Freedom of Information Act. The accountability of government to the general public is a hallmark of modern democratic governance, a norm of human rights and a tool to curb corruption.

Publishing details of spending of Abacha loot by successive administrations would also ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties including the management of Nigeria’s commonwealth.

Access to the details sought would allow Nigerians an opportunity to assess the impacts of any projects carried out with returned Abacha loot.

Transparency and accountability enable citizens to have a say about issues such as the spending of returned Abacha loot, that matter to them and a chance to monitor and influence how the funds are spent as well as hold those managing the funds to account in cases of diversion or mismanagement.

The government ought to come up with an Abacha loot scoreboard to determine the exact amount stolen and the extent of transparency and accountability of the returned loot since 1999.

If there is any indication that any of the recovered Abacha funds have been diverted, re-stolen or mismanaged, for such cases to be immediately referred to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for effective investigation, and prosecution if there is relevant admissible evidence.

A scoreboard for the actual amount stolen and the spending of returned loot by each administration since 1999 would encourage more transparency and accountability and ensure that the funds reach the real victims of corruption as well as reduce concerns by Nigerians, the holding states and other partners about the returned loot being diverted, re-stolen or mismanaged.

SERAP, therefore, urges you to:

  1. Disclose the exact amounts stolen by Abacha, and the total amounts of the recovered loot since the return of democracy in 1999;
  2. Disclose details of the projects executed with the funds, locations of any such projects and the names of companies and contractors that carried out the projects;
  3. Disclose details of specific roles played by the World Bank and other partners in the execution of any projects funded with Abacha loot since 1999;
  4. Refer any allegations of corruption involving the execution of projects with Abacha loot to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for investigation;
  5. Ensure that anyone involved in alleged corruption in projects executed with Abacha loot is brought to justice if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence

By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on the exact amount stolen and spending of returned Abacha loot and related details. By Section 4 (a) of the FoI Act, when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or urgency to whom the application is directed is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within 7 days after the application is received.

By Sections 2(3)(d)(V) & (4) of the FoI Act, there is a binding legal duty to ensure that documents containing information relating to the exact amount stolen and spending of recovered Abacha loot are widely disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means. The information being requested does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FoI Act.

The information requested for as indicated above, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FoI Act, bothers on an issue of national interest, public concern, the interest of human rights, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability.

We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.

Yours sincerely,

Kolawole Oluwadare

Deputy Director

Abacha’s Family Loses Appeal To Unfreeze Foreign Accounts

Abacha

 

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by the family of late Military Head of State, General Sani Abacha, asking for an order to unfreeze some bank accounts belonging to him and other members of the family.

The accounts, domiciled in banks in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Island of Jersey, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, were frozen following mutual agreements entered between Nigeria and the countries during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Delivering judgment in the appeal filed by a son of the late head of state, Mohammed Abacha, a five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, unanimously held that the suit which was first initiated before the Federal High Court in Kano in January 2004 had become statute-barred.

READ ALSO: Don’t Be Intimidated By Other Arms Of Government, Wike Tells Judiciary

In the lead judgment read by Justice Amina Augie, on behalf of Justice Chima Nweze, the apex court affirmed the concurrent decisions of both the Federal High Court in Kano and the Court of Appeal, Kaduna division, which had both dismissed the suit for being statute-barred.

Following the mutual judicial assistance entered into between Nigeria and Switzerland in 1999, former President Obasanjo had asked the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Kanu Agabi at that time, to write to the Swiss government to freeze all bank accounts held by Abacha and his family members between 1993 and 1998 in the foreign countries.

The government discovered the accounts in Abacha’s name in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Island of Jersey, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg and had them frozen.

On the 28th of January 2004, the Abacha’s family challenged the freezing of their accounts by filing the suit at the Federal High Court, Kano but the court dismissed the suit on the grounds that it was statute-barred.

 

FG To Receive $318m Recovered Abacha Loot Within 72 Days, Says Malami

 

The Federal Government is set to receive the sum of $318,460,329 looted and stashed away by former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha from the United States of America within the next 72 days.

This is according to the Attorney General of the Federation Mr. Abubakar Malami who disclosed on Channels Television Politics Today in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Mr. Malami on Tuesday had signed a tripartite agreement on behalf of the Federal Government with the United States of America and the Island of Jersey to repatriate the funds.

READ ALSO: Security: Take The Battle To These Criminals, Gbajabiamila Tells Service Chiefs

The AGF stated that the money which is in the custody of the Island of Jersey will be sent to the USA within 27 days, and then within 45 days, the money will be repatriated to Nigeria.

The money is expected to take care of three major infrastructure projects; the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Abuja – Kano Expressway, and the Second Niger Bridge.

“The money as it is, in the custody of Island of Jersey where it was deposited and then the United States came on board on account of the fact that it has an order of forfeiture restraining the money against the background that its financial means of exchange, the dollar, was used in the perpetration of the crime of looting the asset of Nigeria.

“So that brings about the parties of interest to be the Island of Jersey where the money was stashed, the USA which initiated the judicial process for the repatriation of the money and Nigeria which is indeed the victim; so the common agreement that was reached is that within 27 days, the money will leave the custody of Island of Jersey down to the USA and within 45 days the money will be repatriated to Nigeria.

“We are looking at around 72 days from Tuesday when the agreement was signed and executed by the party,” he added.

Other Monies To Be Repatriated

Mr. Malami also intimated that the Federal Government is in further talks to repatriate other monies looted and stashed abroad.

He revealed that the $318m recovered is not the last looted by Abacha and the Buhari-led government is also working to ensure that other funds are recovered immediately.

“As it is, there are additional monies not only relating to Abacha but indeed extending to other parties of interest, inclusive of monies to be recovered relating to James Ibori, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governors in Nigeria, former petroleum minister, Diezani and indeed Kola Aluko.

“Negotiations commenced on these additional monies yesterday (Tuesday) and we look forward to signing an agreement in no distant future for the purpose of the repatriation of the additional sum.

The AGF added that “Part of the money we are looking forward to having repatriated in no distant future include some of the monies that are now domiciled in the UK, US, and France.

“In respect of Abacha, it is not the last, we are still expecting additional money,” he revealed.

Legal Fee

When asked about the fees paid by the Federal Government to lawyers for facilitating the recovery of the monies stashed abroad, Mr. Malami intimated that President Buhari had restricted payment of fees not to exceed five percent.

He stressed that before President Buhari came into power, Nigeria paid as high as 35 to 40 percent professional legal fee.

“When recoveries are involved, you have to concede certain things because as it is, Nigerian lawyers cannot come over to the UK, Island of Jersey or the US to practice for the purpose of recovering certain proceedings because he is not licensed to practice offshore; so we have a concession of lawyers both local and international that work together on the basis of negotiation.

“Before the government of President Muhammadu Buhari came on board, Nigeria was conceding around 35 to 40 percent legal fees, but he gave a restriction that the professional fee payment does not exceed 5 percent.

The AGF stated that “As far as this government is concerned, no payment has been conceded above the 5 percent over time and there are times we negotiate below the 5 percent margin.”

 

New Abacha Loot To Fund Three Infrastructure Projects

General Sani Abacha was a Nigerian military Head of State in the 1990s
General Sani Abacha was a Nigerian military Head of State in the 1990s

 

The Federal Government is set to use the latest recovered loot from the Sani Abacha administration to fund three major infrastructure projects.

The government, on Monday, signed an agreement with the United States of America and the Island of Jersey to repatriate the sum of $318,460,329 looted by General Abacha during his military regime in the 1990s.

READ ALSO: FG Signs Tripartite Agreement To Repatriate $318m Abacha Loot

The funds, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Ferdinand Nwonye, will be used to fund, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Abuja – Kano Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge and will be supervised by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

 

Publish Names, Photographs Of Those Sharing Recovered Abacha Loot, PDP Tells Buhari

Don’t Recognise Oshiomhole As APC Chairman, PDP Tells INEC
File photo: PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has asked President Muhammadu Buhari, to make public names and photographs of all those involved in the sharing of the recovered $322 million Abacha loot to the poor Nigerians.

Their comment comes after the Federal Government says it will disburse the recovered money to 302 poor households in 19 states, starting from July.

According to the F.G, it will be done as part of the government’s Social Investment Programmes which is aimed at lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

In a statement by the party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party urged the President Buhari to show his transparency as well as to enable Nigerians to know and see the faces of those superintending over the stealing of the repatriated fund under the guise of sharing it to the ‘poorest of the poor’.

The PDP asked the President to order the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as well, to make public, the APC interests who own the consulting firm reported to have been paid billions of naira as consultancy fees for the “sharing” of the money, which was not also passed through the constitutionally required approval of the National Assembly.

“President Buhari needs to note that Nigerians are utterly dismayed that having hitherto postured as a supporter of the ‘Talakawa’ and man of integrity, he has taken no steps against this bare-faced atrocity where over 90 percent of supposed beneficiaries of the repatriated fund are phony names supplied by fraudulent officials of his government.

“Nigerians are completely at a loss on why President Buhari always fail to take bold steps to expose and deal with corrupt and sharp practices by his appointees and leaders of his APC, even when such nefarious acts are directed against the less-privileged citizens already suffering the harsh economic realities of his administration.

“Since this issue was raised and the PDP called for a legislative scrutiny, the Federal Government and the APC have kept mum, perhaps, thinking that by their silence, it will be swept under the carpet like others in the past.

“However, let the APC and the Presidency be informed that Nigerians want to know the details of all those involved in the sharing, the details of the consultants; who authorized the consultancy, the scope of work of the consultancy firm as well as the terms.

“Mr. President should therefore not stand aloof on this matter like others before it because it directly concerns the people.

“The impunity, stealing and corruption under his administration have reached the rooftop and must be brought to check before the nation suffers an irreparable hemorrhage”.

Abacha Loot Should Be Transferred To Poor Nigerians, Not NASS – Issa Aremu

 

A former Vice President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Issa Aremu, has supported the Federal Government’s decision to share the recovered Abacha loot as payouts to poor families, through the conditional cash transfers.

In an interview with Channels Television In Kaduna, Mr Aremu condemned the recent call by members of the House of Representatives to pay the repatriated monies into the consolidated revenue account rather than distribution to the federating units.

The labour leader believes it is wiser for the government to give the poorest Nigerians the recovered cash as a matter of right, rather than what he calls “undignified handouts”.

“I want to support the position of the Federal Government that this money should be distributed directly to the poorest Nigerians.

“It was cash looting, it has to be cash transferred back to the poor people.

“The money should not go to National Assembly because you know the budgeting process in this country – it is a bottomless pit in which few legislators with their MD executives share a lot of these resources between themselves and I think I want to support the social investment programme which is already in place, supported by the world bank,” he said.

The Federal Government had said that the recovered funds would be disbursed to 302 poor households in 19 states, starting from July as part of its Social Investment Programmes which aim to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

Read Also:

FG To Disburse Recovered $322m Abacha Loot To Poor Nigerians

Sharing $322m Abacha Loot Among Households Is Mis-targeted Spending – SERAP

It also said the payment is expected to be done in installments, to avoid logistic obstacles.

The Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform, Juliet Nwagwu, had, however, said at a news conference in Abuja that the payments won’t be made in cash.

“Nobody is going to give anybody any cash; it is going to be through an electronic payment system which we want CSOs (civil society organisations) to verify,” she said.

Originally deposited in Luxembourg, the $322.5 million was confiscated by a Swiss court in late 2014 and in March 2017, the two states signed an agreement on its repatriation.

Reps Oppose Planned Sharing Of Recovered Abacha Loot To Poor Families

Reps To Probe Lawmaker Over Comments On Buhari’s Alleged Impeachment
File photo

 

Members of the House of Representatives are opposing the Federal Government’s decision to share the recovered $322 million Abacha loot to poor families in the country.

The lawmakers are saying that the Federal Government cannot spend the money without the parliament’s approval.

The Federal Government had in June disclosed that it will disburse the recovered money to 302 poor households in 19 states, starting from July.

According to the F.G, it will be part of the government’s Social Investment Programmes which aims to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

READ ALSO: ICYMI: FG To Disburse Recovered $322m Abacha Loot To Poor Nigerians

But the lawmakers are asking the FG how much is the total Abacha loot recovered so far?

During plenary on Wednesday, they questioned the motive behind the FG’s decision and how the government plans to determine which families are the poorest.

However, the Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform, Juliet Nwagwu, explained that the money will be paid in installment to the poor households in order to avoid logistic orders.

She said, “Nobody is going to give anybody any cash; it is going to be through an electronic payment system which we want CSOs (civil society organisations) to verify,”.

The lawmakers are, therefore, suggesting that the money should be paid into the consolidated revenue fund and distributed to federating units in line with the current revenue sharing formula.

Sharing $322m Abacha Loot Among Households Is Mis-targeted Spending – SERAP

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has said the plan by the Federal Government to share the $350million (around N115 billion) loot recovered from a former military ruler, late Gen. Sani Abacha among poor households is “mis-targeted”.

The group said this on Sunday, in a statement by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale.

According to SERAP, the money which is part of an estimated $2.2 billion looted by the military dictator, to be shared among an estimated 300,000 households, with each getting around $14 (around N5,000) a month “would not bring any tangible benefits to the beneficiaries.”

“The authorities have a legal obligation under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party to make sure that the returned Abacha loot is properly and efficiently used, both from the viewpoint of using asset recovery as a tool of ensuring justice to victims of corruption and breaking the cycle of grand corruption.

“But the plan to share the loot among households is mere tokenism and would neither have a significant impact on poverty alleviation nor satisfy the twin objectives of justice and development,” SERAP said.

It, therefore, asked the government to rather than distribute the money among families, invest it in tangible projects that would benefit the poor.

It also advised the government to source funds elsewhere to continue its National Social Safety Net Program (NAASP).

“Rather than spending the loot to fund the National Social Safety Net Program (NAASP), President Buhari should, within the framework of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), create a central recovery account/trust funds, with oversight mechanisms to ensure repatriated funds are transparently and accountably spent to invest in tangible projects that would improve access of those living in poverty to essential public services such as water, education and health.

“Distributing N5,000 to households would neither improve the socio-economic conditions of beneficiaries nor achieve the enduring value of a more transparent and robust system to manage recovered loot.”

It stated further that, “the return of the Abacha loot is a chance for President Buhari to commit to the enforcement of the 2016 judgment by Justice Mohammed Idris, which ordered his government to disclose the spending of recovered loot since 1999 by past and present governments till date, as well as details of projects on which the funds were spent; and to vigorously push the National Assembly to pass the Proceeds of Crime Bill.

“Buhari should make these happen before the next general elections if he is to truly demonstrate his oft-repeated commitment to fight grand corruption.”

SERAP also believes that proper and efficient “spending of returned looted funds offers an opportunity to right wrongs committed by corrupt officials, rebuild public trust, and invest in the development of communities most affected by grand corruption in the country to improve the prospects for meeting many of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

The Federal Government had said that the recovered funds would be disbursed to 302 poor households in 19 states, starting from July as part of its Social Investment Programmes which aim to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

Read Also: FG To Disburse Recovered $322m Abacha Loot To Poor Nigerians

It also said the payment is expected to be done in installments, to avoid logistic obstacles.

The Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform, Juliet Nwagwu, had, however, said at a news conference in Abuja that the payments won’t be made in cash.

“Nobody is going to give anybody any cash; it is going to be through an electronic payment system which we want CSOs (civil society organisations) to verify,” she said.

Originally deposited in Luxembourg, the $322.5 million was confiscated by a Swiss court in late 2014 and in March 2017, the two states signed an agreement on its repatriation.

FG To Use Returned $322.5m Abacha Loot For Social Investment

Adeosun Says Nigeria Not An Oil Economy
File photo

 

The Federal Government has announced plans to use the recovered  322.5 million dollars Abacha loot to fund the Social Investment Scheme.

According to the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, the investment will help address the health and education challenges affecting the poor and vulnerable.

The minister who was speaking at a joint news conference with the Central Bank governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele to wrap up events at the spring meeting of the World Bank /IMF in Washington is optimistic that the success recorded in the nation’s economic rating will yield more results in the days ahead.

The CBN governor disclosed that the nation’s external reserves now stands at 47.93 billion dollars but warned that the figures will keep fluctuating in the meantime.

The Minister had on April 11, 2018, denied controversy surrounding the recovered Abacha loot.

Reports had emerged that the minister allegedly wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, blocking the payment of $16.9million fees to lawyers for the repatriation of the funds.

In her reaction on her personal Twitter handle, Adeosun said, “Let me make this clear: the media reports claiming that I wrote to the President regarding the Abacha refunds are all false and should be disregarded. There is no controversy whatsoever regarding the recovery.”

Similarly, in the statement, the minister insisted that there was no time she wrote a “strongly-worded letter to the President” or any member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), objecting to the payment of fees to two lawyers for the recovery of Abacha funds.

The minister also denied claims of controversy surrounding the Abacha recovery, disclosing that the sum of US$322,515,931.83 was received into a Special Account in the Central Bank of Nigeria on December 18, 2017, from the Swiss Government.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no controversy concerning the recovery of the Abacha monies from the Swiss Government,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Minister who led the Nigerian delegation to the 2018 IMF-World Bank spring meeting, also affirmed that the country’s positive growth outlook would be sustained.