The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given the federal government a seven-day ultimatum to disclose the exact amount of public funds stolen by and recovered from a former head of state, the late General Sani Abacha and details of how the recovered loots were spent since Nigeria returns to democracy in 1999.
SERAP is also asking the FG to disclose details of projects executed with the Abacha loot and their locations, details of companies and contractors involved in the execution of any of such projects, details of all the agreements on the loot, the roles played by the World Bank and other actors, as well as the implementation status of all projects since 1999.
In two Freedom of Information requests sent to Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Mr Abukabar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, SERAP said: “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.”
In the FoI requests dated 14 February 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Publishing the details of projects on which Abacha loot has been spent 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 the officials that may be responsible for any alleged diversion or mismanagement of the loot.”
According to SERAP: “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 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.”
“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.”
Daily Trust reports that Nigeria has for about two decades recovered $4.6 billion (1.4trn) allegedly looted from the nation’s treasury and stashed abroad by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
Data on the recoveries collated by Daily Trust indicates that the funds were repatriated mainly from four countries between 2002 and 2020 under the administrations of Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari.
The countries include Switzerland, Jersey Island in United Kingdom, United States of America and Liechtenstein.
Similarly, the Government of Jersey, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the United States of America had few weeks ago entered into an Asset Recovery Agreement to repatriate over US$308 million of forfeited assets to Nigeria.