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.

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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
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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.

 

Adeosun Denies Controversy Over Returned Abacha Loot

Adeosun Denies Controversy Over Returned Abacha Loot
File photo

 

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has denied controversy surrounding the repatriated funds looted by the late former military Head of State, General Sanni Abacha.

Mrs Adeosun said this in a statement by her Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Oluyinka Akintunde, on Tuesday in Abuja.

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.

Abacha Loot: Jersey Gives Conditions For Repatriation Of $300m

The Government of Jersey Island says the sum of $300m which is part of the amount allegedly looted by former head of state General Sani Abacha will not be repatriated to Nigeria unless certain conditions are met.

One of the conditions, according to a statement by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, is that no third-party representation should be involved in the talks for the repatriation.

The Minister and Attorney General of Jersey Island, Robert MacRae said this on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, during the ongoing 7th Session of Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, holding in Vienna, Austria.

MacRae spoke at a side meeting with the Nigeria delegation led by acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.

The EFCC said the Jersey Attorney-General stressed that negotiations in respect of repatriation in respect of the $300 million being part of the Abacha loot between Nigeria and Jersey Island and which involves the United States of America, USA, “must be government to government cooperation”.

Our Role In Spending Abacha Loot Was Limited, World Bank Tells SERAP

President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim has insisted that the global financial institution only played a limited role in the spending of loots recovered from the late Military Head of State, Sani Abacha.

The bank was responding to a letter from economic watchdog, Socio-Economic Rights and Accoundtability Project (SERAP) seeking clarifications on the role played by the bank in the spending of the recovered loots.

The World Bank in a statement said: “The funds were returned directly from Switzerland to the Nigerian Government adding that it is committed to helping Nigeria account for the spending of the loots.

“They were programmed into the national budget and utilized by the Nigerian Government in line with its National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS).

“As agreed with the Nigerian and Swiss governments, the Bank’s role was limited to carrying out an ex-post analysis on their use with a particular focus on their contribution to the NEEDS.

“This was done as part of the public expenditure review carried out jointly by Nigerian government and the Bank under the Country Partnership Strategy. The monitoring and analysis of repatriated funds was undertaken at two levels through: (1) the Bank-led analysis of general budget expenditure trends, and (2) a budget monitoring survey which was a limited field survey of sample projects funded under the budget program and randomly selected from a list of projects provided by the government.

“The budget monitoring survey was conducted by joint teams representing both government agencies and Nigerian civil society organizations. The Bank’s role in this particular case was limited by the design and different from the type of comprehensive audits we can do when funds are spent in projects supported by the Bank. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to explain the Bank’s role in this matter in the near future.

“We do share your deep commitment to fighting corruption and promoting transparency and accountability. These are key ingredients to successful development and economic well-being.

“We believe that the work organizations like SERAP are doing is critical to achieve our common goal of improving the lives of people in Nigeria and beyond,” the statement added.

Abacha Loot: SERAP Writes Trump

AbachaThe Embassy of the United States of America in Nigeria, has said it would deliver a letter by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to President Donald Trump, requesting the release of 500 million dollars worth of proceeds traced to former Military Head of State, Sani Abacha to Nigeria.

A statement signed by the SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, noted that he U.S embassy said: “The Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are in regular communication with the Nigerian Attorney General and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding further cooperation needed to conclude pending asset forfeiture cases and to develop a mechanism for the timely and transparent repatriation of those assets.”

The embassy’s letter signed by David J. Young, Deputy Chief of Mission, follows SERAP’s letter dated February 3, 2017 and signed by the organisation’s U.S. Volunteer Counsel, Professor Alexander W. Sierck and Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni.

In the letter, SERAP had told Mr Trump that, “the U.S. Department of Justice must promptly initiate civil asset forfeiture proceedings against the $500 million proceeds of corruption so as to fulfill several non-controversial commitments by the U.S. to assist Nigeria in recovering assets looted by former Nigerian government officials.”

The response of the embassy read in part: “The United States Government supports the Government of Nigeria’s efforts to work with civil society to identify how harm can be remedied through the return of stolen assets. We encourage you to disclose these issues with the Nigerian Attorney General and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who are working closely with the U.S. on the repatriation process.

“We were encouraged by civil society’s role in the development of Nigeria’s Open Government Partnership Action Plan and the commitment to strengthening laws to foster transparency and accountability in the management of recovered and returned assets.”

SERAP had however, noted in its letter that, “the $500 million proceeds are separate from the $480 million of Abacha-origin funds that have been forfeited to the U.S. under an August 2014 U.S. Federal district court order. SERAP’s request is fully consistent with the UN Convention Against Corruption, which both the U.S. and Nigeria have ratified.

“Any bilateral discussions between the U.S. and Nigeria concerning these assets should include clear acknowledgement of the significant role that civil society plays in asset recovery matters.” the group stressed.

Falana Asks Nigeria To Reject Conditions For Return Of Abacha Loot

Falana, Femi Falana, Abacha LootHuman rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana has asked the federal government to reject the conditionality attached to the repatriation of late military ruler Sani Abacha’s loot in Switzerland.

In a letter addressed to Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Falana describes the Swiss government’s conditions for returning $321m of Abacha’s loot to Nigeria as an insult.

He recalled the disclosure by Swiss Ambassador, Mr. Eric Mayoraz, that the government of Switzerland has requested the World Bank to supervise the spending of the returned loot.

According to the Senior Advocate of Nigeria: “We believe that the conditionality imposed on Nigeria, which allows the World Bank to supervise the spending of returned assets by the Nigerian government breaches international law principles and standards.”

Mr Falana also accused the World Bank of not demonstrating sufficient level of transparency and accountability in its supervision of spending of previously returned Abacha loot.

He added that, should the Swiss government refuse to return the money without any conditionality, the federal government should initiate legal proceedings for the recovery of the funds.

Read the full text of Mr Falana’s letter to President Buhari below:

 

President Mohammadu Buhari,
The Presidential Villa,
Aso Rock,
Abuja, FCT.
Your Excellency

Re: Request to reject the conditionality attached to the return of $321m Abacha loot by Switzerland

We are a firm of legal practitioners in Nigeria dedicated to the defence and promotion of human rights and democracy as well as public accountability and transparency.

We are writing on behalf of our law firm to request the Federal Government to reject, without any further delay, the insulting conditionality including the supervision by the World Bank, attached to repatriation of the sum of $321m Abacha loot in Switzerland to Nigeria.

We note that recently the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Eric Mayoraz disclosed that the Swiss government would soon return $321m of Abacha loot to Nigeria. As part of the process of repatriation, the Ambassador claimed that the government of Switzerland has, unilaterally requested the World Bank to supervise the spending of the returned loot.

We note that grand corruption, money laundering and return of stolen assets have long become major issues of concern to the international community. We further note that Switzerland has acceded to all the relevant international treaties such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption for the return of assets.

We believe that the conditionality imposed on Nigeria, which allows the World Bank to supervise the spending of returned assets by the Nigerian government breaches international law principles and standards. In particular, Article 57 of the UN Convention against Corruption requires states parties to return assets “on the basis of a final judgment in the requesting State Party.” But in circumstances where there is no “final judgment” Article 57 allows for assets to be returned on the basis of “agreements or mutually acceptable arrangements, on a case-by-case basis, for the final disposal of confiscated property.”

This provision suggests that Switzerland has no legal authority to impose conditions on Nigeria regarding the spending of recovered assets. While the UN Convention against Corruption contains provisions for “special considerations” when states parties are concluding agreements, this does not give the  government of Switzerland the right to unilaterally impose conditions on Nigeria.

In addition to breaching the clear provisions of Article 57, the imposition of any conditions on the Nigerian government is a flagrant violation of the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention founded in Article 2 of the United Nations Charter. Imposing conditions on Nigeria regarding the spending of returned assets is disproportionate and amounts to an unlawful intervention because Switzerland has no legal or moral right to the assets. Indeed, Switzerland is completely complicit for the stashing and depositing of stolen assets from Nigeria in its banks and other financial institutions.

We are seriously concerned that the World Bank itself has not demonstrated sufficient level of transparency and accountability in its supervision of spending of previously returned Abacha loot.  For example, the World Bank has so far refused to satisfactorily disclose information on the spending of recovered Abacha loot requested by Nigerian anticorruption NGO Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP). The Bank has been unable or unwilling to consistently apply its own Access to Information Policy to disclose key information to civil society groups and other stakeholders. In the SERAP case, the World Bank failed and/or neglected to provide several portions of the information requested on the spending of recovered Abacha loot managed by the Bank. Although the Bank’s Access to Information Policy recognizes the right to an appeals process when a request for information in the World Bank’s possession is improperly or unreasonably denied, the appeal lodged by SERAP has been unreasonably and unduly delayed

Having regard to the empty promises made so far by Switzerland and the United States to return forfeited assets worth over $800 million it is clear that the Western countries will continue to frustrate the repatriation of the looted wealth of the nation being warehoused by them, albeit illegally. We are therefore compelled to request the Federal Government to reject any conditionality including the supervision by the World Bank attached to the return of $231m of Abacha loot to Nigeria.

In the event that the government of Switzerland refuses to return the said sum of $321 million without any conditionality the Federal Government should not hesitate to initiate legal proceedings for the recovery of the asset. In the proposed suit Nigeria  should claim punitive and exemplary damages and interests from Switzerland for keeping the loot for over 20 years.

Finally, the Federal Government is urged to collaborate with relevant civil society organizations to mount a campaign locally and internationally to ensure full compliance by Switzerland, the United States and other Western countries to international law principles of accountability, proportionality, sovereignty, equality, fairness and non-interference.

Yours sincerely,

Femi Falana, SAN, FCI Arb.

US Lawmakers To Ask Obama To Withhold Abacha Loot For Boko Haram Victims

US, Abacha loot, Boko HaramThe United States’ lawmakers may soon vote on a bill that will allow President Barack Obama and his government to set aside all or part of the Abacha loot recovered in the US for victims of the Boko Haram insurgency.

According to online newspaper, the bill was sponsored on Thursday by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, who represents the 18th District of Texas.

Ms. Jackson-Lee was one of 10 people, who spoke at the congressional hearing on the condition of the missing Chibok girls since they were kidnapped over two years ago.

The congresswoman, who was on a fact-finding visit to Nigeria, a few weeks after the school girls were kidnapped, said the bill was inspired by the difficulty being faced by the families of the missing girls.

She added that the motive behind the sponsor of the ‘H.R. 528’, which she titled ‘Victims of Terror Protection Act’ was to create a relief fund for them and other victims of insurgency.

“When we were in Nigeria two years ago, families were still in pain, they are still in limbo.

“Boko Haram has killed Muslims, Christians and others. They’ve killed and burned mosques and churches, (as well as) homes and schools,” she said.

Court Orders Nigerian Leaders To Account For Recovered Stolen Funds

Nigerian-Leaders-from-1999A Federal High Court on Tuesday ordered the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that his government, the governments of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Yar’adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan account fully for all recovered funds.

The Court sitting in Lagos declared that successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 breached the fundamental Principles of Transparency and Accountability for failing to disclose details about the spending of recovered stolen public funds.

Justice Mohammed Idris made the order while delivering judgment in a Freedom of Information suit filed by a non-governmental organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

In an interview with Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the onus was now on the Accountant General of the Federation working closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria and other relevant organisations of the government to comply with the court’s order.

“The information we received was that certain recoveries were made from Abacha, some from Ibori and some other public servants.

“We are not able to see. For Abacha alone it was about six billion dollars.  If such monies were recovered, we should be able to see on ground where those monies went in terms of expenditures.

“In spite of such recoveries, there has been no serious improvement on the road networks in Nigeria, nothing like improvement in the health facilities in Nigeria, the electricity system is still very comatose.

“That is why we think that whatever happens, this is a democracy, you must let the people know what going on. It is as simple as that,” Mr Mumuni said.

One of such recovered loots that Nigerians will like to know how it was utilised is the loot of a former military leader, General Sanni Abacha.

The National Economic Council had in December last year said the loots recovered from late General Abacha was $26.4 million and £19 million as at November.