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SERAP writes Buhari, seeks clarification on returned N800b loot, disbursements

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari “to direct Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, to publish a comprehensive list of names of people from whom N800 billion in looted funds have been recovered, the details of spending of the money and the dates of the recoveries.”

In a Freedom of Information Act (FoI) request dated June 13, 2020 and sent to the President, the group implored the Nigerian leader 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.”

In the correspondence signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said: “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.”

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According to the Lagos-based organisation, “the information will also reveal where 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 document, copied to Malami and 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 ensure 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 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.”

It continued: “We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within seven 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.”

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