Abacha loot repatriation and matters arising
Sir: In their inordinate lust for filthy lucre, some Nigerian leaders have been indicted in different corrupt practices, misappropriation of public funds, fraud, embezzlement and looting public funds in order to enrich themselves. More worrying is the deployment of unhealthy attitude to manipulate national economy to their own advantage and how these unpatriotic leaders saddled with the responsibility of steering the state affairs laundered its treasury and transferred them to foreign accounts of different countries, leaving the country’s economy in moribund, resulted in the present comatose of its health sector, education, poor roads condition, inadequate portable water for the masses to mention just a few.
Evidently to the trenches of money been repatriated from foreign countries. One of Nigeria’s leader that laundered Nigeria’s funds and siphoned it to the foreign accounts was late military dictator General Sani Abacha. He was said to have embezzled assets of at least $5 billion and despite several successive government efforts to repatriate most of the funds from foreign countries, but the effort remained to no avail due to some foreign countries’ peculiarities of monetary policies and financial system, and among all absence of International political will as the funds were suspected to have been located in various countries and continent over the world.
Some of these countries include Austria, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Dubai, France, Germany, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America among others. Be that as it may, Nigeria is currently ranked 146th out of the 180 countries on the 2019 Corruption Perception Index, according to Transparency International. Despite historical embeddedness of corruption in Nigeria, successive administration have always engaged on perennial war and struggle against corruption, reinforced by worsening socio-economic conditions and a relentless public criticism toward corruption in every public sector.
To this bleak, most Nigerians associated the worsening surge of corruption cases in the country to the failure of Nigeria’s leaders to initiate and institute a capital punishment on corrupt public office holders that will serve as a deterrence no matter whose ox is gored. Considerably, the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has not relent in continuation of the state policy against corruption and thus, known in its zero-tolerance against corruption which translates to significant success. Consequently, it recorded a huge success in its war against corruption where it has recently seen a light when on 4th May, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN confirmed the receipt of approximately $311, 797, 866 of the Abacha assets repatriated from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
This is indeed a giant stride though the released of the funds for was for agreeing capital infrastructure and the agreement sealed with the US authorities prior to the repatriation of the funds might not be an issue of concern but it’s obvious that Nigeria is losing integrity. For a foreign country to impose conditions on how we should spend our funds is a bludgeon to the sovereignty of Nigeria as an independent country and direct neocolonialism in practice. It’s obviously clear that the parties have no confidence in Nigeria’s authorities. But It might be for the fear of the recovered looted funds not to be re-looted a gain or not to be mismanaged, since most of the previous recovered looted funds are not being managed appropriately in such a way that it will benefit the general public who are mostly at the receiving end of the looted funds.
Given that the life of the ordinary Nigerians remained as it was. Thus, the frequent questions being asked by the Nigerians is, Where is the money being recovered? What has been done with it, given the torpid state of infrastructure and social services in the country? It’s now up to the Nigeria’s authorities to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they can be trusted again and use the repatriated public funds judiciously as it is in the signed agreement with the U.S authorities in order to regain both the internal and external trust.
• Rabiu Musa wrote from Bayero University, Kano.