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Why we are sharing Abacha’s loot to poorest homes, by Presidency

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President Muhammadu Buhari PHOTO: BAYO OMOBORIOWO

The Presidency has explained that the decision to share the $322 million recovered Abacha’s loot to the poorest of the poor citizens was due to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the Swiss government and network of civil societies.

It said a Swiss court had ordered the commencement of repatriation of Abacha loot on the condition that World Bank would supervise utilisation to prevent mismanagement and re-looting.

Special Assistant to the President on Judicial Reform, Juliet Ibekaku Nwagwu, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the inception meeting of the Monitoring Recovered Asset through Transparency and Accountability (MANTRA) organised by Africa Network of Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ).

She noted that the conditional cash transfer of the fund to the poor would also enable the mandatory involvement of the World Bank in the process such that the money would be used in a subsisting programme of the bank in Nigeria so as to enable it use its existing monitoring and broader institutional resources to monitor the use of the funds.

However, the decision by the Federal Government to use the funds for the social investment programme had been criticised by stakeholders who were of the opinion that the funds could have been used to fund infrastructural projects.

Nwagwu, who is also the National Co-ordinator of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), stated that the funds for cash transfers were an outcome of months of negotiation that enabled the repatriation of the funds in the first place.

She said the United States (U.S.) had agreed to return the $900,000 stashed in the country by former Governor of Bayelsa State, Depriye Alamieyeseigha, adding that the United Kingdom (UK) is also in the process of returning the $73 million from the Malabu Oil deal.

Besides, she disclosed that the cash transfer programme, expected to kick off in July 2018, would be implemented in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT as against the 19 states that initially subscribed to the Social Investment Programme (SIP).

Meanwhile, Chairman, ANEEJ Board of Directors, Prof. Ben Aigbokhan, in his remark, noted that their campaign for looted assets is yielding dividends after its inception 20 years ago.

He said: “This has contributed to processes of policy formulation and other activities, and this is a culmination of our commitment to the process of effective recovery and management of looted assets.”

According to him, our focus has been to ensure that those who engage in range of corrupt activities that enable the looting of our collective resources are held to account for them.

He further explained that the project would go beyond just the monitoring of loot to more sustainable objective of establishing a regime for transparent, accountable return and utilisation.


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