Civil Society raise alarm over Nigerian govt’s handling of $227million Abacha loot

Former military Head of State, Sani Abacha

Nearly a year after taking delivery of another tranche of looted funds recovered from former dictator, Sani Abacha, the Nigerian government has yet to specify how it intends to utilize the money, frustrating monitors seeking to ensure the funds are not stolen the second time.

Part of conditions for releasing the hundreds of millions of dollars stolen money from Swiss bank was that the World Bank monitors how the funds are applied transparently for the benefit of Nigerians. Civil society groups also undertook to monitor the deployment of the money.

The partners insisted the Nigerian government specify people-centred projects it intends to spend the money on.

But more than 10 months after the government named a committee to identify projects, the process has not established a single project, civil society groups and the World Bank confirmed.

Independent monitors say whatever the government has done with regards to the money has gone on with utmost secrecy, with relative cooperation from the World Bank. They said the government has deliberately worked to ensure monitors have no way of knowing how the money is handled.

The World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Francoise Marie-Nelly, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview last week that an inter-ministerial committee constituted by the Nigerian government in 2014 to help identify the best projects and programmes to invest the recovered funds was yet to agree on such modalities.
“I can confirm that we have had a dialogue,” Ms. Marie-Nelly said. “I am not in a position to give details. Modalities are in the process of being worked out. But we have not agreed on how the monitoring would be organized. We are yet to determine which of the projects would benefit.”

The committee was set up by President Goodluck Jonathan in June, 2014 after the Government of the principality of Liechtenstein promised to return to Nigeria about $227 million as part of the looted funds recovered from the Abacha family.

The Minister for Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had said then that the president had directed that part of the funds be saved in the Future Generations Fund under the Sovereign Wealth Fund managed by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.

However, details of specific projects the funds would be deployed towards have been shrouded in secrecy, as civil society groups in Nigeria and their Swiss counterparts have raised concerns about the commitment of the Nigerian government to ensure the money is judiciously spent.

A report by Swiss media, L’Hebdo, had criticized the agreement for its out-of-court settlement with the Abacha family, which was approved by the Public Prosecutor in Geneva in October 2014, as prelude to the closures of further criminal proceedings against the former Nigerian first family.

The report had pointed out that the agreement neither provided a guarantee that the recovered funds would be utilized to the benefit of the Nigerian people, nor sanctions against the Abacha family.
Amid reports last week that another $380 million (N75.6billion) of the Abacha loots was to be returned to Nigeria, Swiss civil society groups at the weekend restated their disappointment that the handling of the returned funds has so far not been transparent.

The civil society groups, through the Berne Declaration platform, faulted the decision not to have determined how the money would be spent before the repatriation of the funds to Nigeria.

“Only a transparent process, including the involvement of the Nigerian civil society, can ensure that the funds would, indeed, benefit the Nigerian population,” the groups said. “The agreement is a tragic triumph of impunity. Law enforcement authorities have shut down a long-standing process without holding those responsible for the massive looting accountable. This is all the more troubling, because many of the banks involved have not been convicted of money laundering.”

The groups’ Nigerian Ally, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, also expressed worry that all the conditions and agreements between the Swiss and Nigerian governments with the World Bank on the handling of the funds are shrouded in secrecy.

The Executive Director of the Network, David Ugolor, said it was frustrating that more than a decade since the Swiss government began to repatriate recovered Abacha loots to Nigeria, there were no clear guidelines and conditions to guarantee transparency in the transaction.

Mr. Ugolor expressed concern that the open process set in 2005 when the Swiss government opted to return $505million of the stolen monies to Nigeria, which involved all interest groups, including civil society groups, has been jettisoned by government.

Lessons from his group’s involvement in monitoring the repatriation of the $505million under the Public Expenditure Management and Financial Accountability Review, he pointed out, have reinforced fears about the absence of a credible legal framework to deal with issues of stolen assets.

“The present arrangement sends wrong signals and increase the concern of civil society organisations like ours that have fought long and hard to ensure that repatriated funds from the Swiss government to Nigeria did not end up being re-looted,” Mr. Ugolor said.

Criticizing the government’s decision to allow the Abacha family to go free with part of the loot, Mr. Ugolor said apart from being an incentive to others to do the same, this would certainly fuel the culture of impunity in looting public funds.

“ANEEJ calls on the Nigerian Finance Minister and the Presidency to come clean on the particulars of the transaction with the Abachas,” Mr. Ugolor said.

The Federal Government, he said, must ensure that it abides by the provisions of various international statutes that demand the involvement of civil society groups in issues relating to recovery of stolen public asset by politically exposed persons.

On the World Bank’s role in monitoring the utilization of recovered looted assets, the civil society activist said, this should not be used to undermine the legitimate voices of the Nigerians to participate in designing and advocating a framework for the transparent utilization of the funds for the benefit of the people.
“We want a framework to ensure that such repatriated funds are spent on visible projects and programmes that would be appreciated by all Nigerians to serve as a disincentive to looting of public treasury,” Mr. Ugolor said. The World Bank and the Nigerian Government must make public details of the negotiations and how they intend to monitor the use of the funds.”

The Nigeria Programme Coordinator for Natural Resource Governance Institute, Dauda Garuba, who was involved in the initial arrangement in 2005 to monitor the use of the fund, said the civil society groups were uncomfortable that an agreement was yet to be reached on acceptable modalities to manage the funds, even with the involvement of the World Bank.

“I don’t know what is going on between the World Bank and the Federal Ministry of Finance. But, with the progress made since 2005 on the issue we should by now have gone beyond where we are today,” Mr. Dauda said.


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  • eddy

    How will the funds be managed properly when u have Jonathan and the 40 thieves running the show?!

    • Abdullahi Abdulrazak

      Which funds are you whining about??
      It’s all propaganda, do you believe there is any money to be returned??
      Our oga told us Abacha never stole a kobo!
      So what are you talking about??

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  • James

    Is the money President Jonathan uses to bribe people, groups-OPS, MASSOB, Niger Delta terrorists, Obas, Obis, Emirs, “Human Rights” group, CAN etc and organizations so that he bribes their support during this election not coming from the Abacha Loot?

    • Abdullahi Abdulrazak

      What ‘Abacha loot’??
      You dey smoke hashish??
      Which funds are you whining about??
      It’s all propaganda, do you believe there is any money to be returned??
      Our oga Buhari told us Abacha never stole a kobo!
      So what are you talking about??

      • James

        But Nigerians are saying that the money which President Jonathan has been using to bribe everybody and everything in his sight since he used the military to postpone the election from Feb 14 is coming from the Abacha Loot. Since President Jonathan is a head of state that ought to have set salary and since what he has been using to bribe during this election is more than his salary, then it seems it is true that the money he has been using to bribe is coming from this Abacha Loot. What do you think?

        • Abdullahi Abdulrazak

          I think it’s all propaganda, because you and I as staunch APC supporters and disciples of Mr integrity know he told us Abacha NEVER Stole a dime!
          Do you have cause to doubt our leader?
          Is the disciple now greater than the master??
          Are you insinuating our Baba lied??
          What’s your take on this?

          • James

            I think you are agreeing with me that the money “Dr.” Jonathan has been using to bribe during this election is coming from the Abacha Loot. Thanks so much for that.

          • Abdullahi Abdulrazak

            Lol!
            U know and I know I have NOT Agreed with u on anything!
            U asked what I thought..i gave you my opinion..now I asked yurs and you blank out and come up with propaganda!
            Lol! We are both staunch APC die hards but we must never shy away from analysing our baba!
            Sai baba!!

          • James

            So the money “Dr.” President Goodluck Jonathan used to bribe the OPC, MASSOB, CAN , Madam “human rights” of WALK Against Terror’, Obas, Obis, Emirs is coming from the Abacha LOOT! Ol boy na wa o for you and “Dr” President ooo!

  • Abdullahi Abdulrazak

    “Abacha NEVER stole a dime”!!!!!!! -Changee Agent Buhari

  • Abia_Man

    There is no loot money according to Buhari. Nothing to see here. Move on PremiumaTimes.

  • grace folarin

    What ‘Abacha loot’??
    You dey smoke hashish??
    Which funds are you whining about??
    It’s all propaganda, do you believe there is any money to be returned??
    Our oga Buhari told us Abacha never stole a kobo!
    So what are you talking about?? #GEJ4NAIJA

    • Northerner

      Oga GEJ told the world that $20b and $40b oil money audit will never be open to public to see as long as he in power!

  • burning spear

    AFTER SAYING ABACHA NEVER STOLE, AN EMBARRASSED BUHARI IS NOW AWARE MORE ABACHA LOOT HAS BEEN UNCOVERED

    After Saying Abacha Never Stole, Buhari SEEMS TO BE Embarrassed as More Abacha Loot is Uncovered

    Former military Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, who served Abacha as Executive Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) has come under some embarrassment over his comments in 2008 that Abacha never stole as new Abacha loot has been traced.

    Buhari, in 2007, described the allegations of looting against Abacha as “baseless”, because according to him, “ten years after Abacha, those allegations remain unproven because of lack of facts”.

    However, fresh facts emerged that the previous estimate of what Abacha stole which stood at $5 Billion may be wrong after all. Soon the same thing will be said of Tinubu who looted Lagos state and the south west dry—should buhari——–God forbid sha be installed as presido———–for the Yorubas

  • Northerner

    GEJ is a thief, a liar, a murderer, an illiterate with a r3tard wife!

    • Tony

      If you are not a retard, don’t u think in the light of these facts, someone who claimed Abacha never stole a penny is a ‘liar’?

      • Northerner

        Tony dumbb man!
        I agree abacha is a thief and buhari lied. But GEJ is even worse than both of them combine.
        GEJ alone is a combination of Modu Shariff, Shekau, Fayose, FanI K, Abacha, isis, boko haram……..

        • Tony

          EXCELLENT! MR ‘INTEGRITY’ LIED!!!!!!

          • kamal Kamoru

            Well done boi! You have extracted what some of us have struggled to do for years from those APC pretenders!
            Bravo!

        • chukwu

          ‘Buhari lied’?????
          Ah! One who lies is a liar ooo!
          So una know all this while?
          LWKM o!!!!

          • Northerner

            U just lied too! U are a liar!

  • Guguru

    Ngozi Iweala has another issue to answer to. This woman needs to be probed. She needs to stop parading herself as standing for the interests of Nigeria.

    • Rommel

      The woman has been diagnosed with EBELEMI syndrome,that is a situation where an individual tells so many lies simultaneously in quick succession hoping that some will be believed

      • Guguru

        I agree.

    • Rotimi Lawanson

      Abeg leave Ngozi alone for this matter. It was GMB that said Abacha never looted the treasury. That is the crux of the matter. Now we know that GMB made the statement under duress. I will leave you to continue polluting this site with your fake ids.Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

      • Guguru

        Wahala aka Segun Abiodun aka Rotimi Lawanson,

        LOL. I knew you would show up sooner than later. I know exactly how to get your attention. LOL. How is your abusive inclinations coming along? Have you checked into a psychiatric ward yet? LOL.

        • Segun Abiodun

          Are you not the one who Charles Owolabi said should be in a psychiatric ward?
          Serial plagierist- you can’t help yourself can you?

          You suffer from a spectrum of psychological illnesses ranging from depression to Mania
          This is usually caused as a result of a traumatic experience like the loss of a job or a loved one.
          You suffer from post tramatic stress disorder- the symptoms are hallucinations- seeing / hearing things others don’t see/ hear.
          Professor Charles Owolabi
          Keep your dirty plagierist mouth shut.

          • Guguru

            Wahala aka Segun Abiodun aka Rotimi Lawanson,

            LOL. Is this all you got? Do you realize that Ngozi is a liar? She said she paid the Petroleum Marketers their money, but we now find that she only gave them N100 billion out of the N185 billion they are owed. And, she made this payment using a promissory note. Wahala with three pseudonyms, don’t you find Ngozi’s lies offensive? LOL. Why are you in love with Ngozi? When do you plan to marry Ngozi?

          • Segun Abiodun

            Shut up
            You suffer from constipation of the mind poverty of thought and diarrhea of the mouth
            Professor Charles Owolabi

          • Segun Abiodun

            Guguru I would marry Ngozi when you stop your plagiarism? Lol
            Professor Charles Owolabi

          • Guguru

            Wahala aka Rotimi Lawanson aka Segun Abiodun,

            Why not marry Ngozi now? Why wait? She is a criminal like you, isn’t she? LOL.

    • Segun Abiodun

      Shut up
      Serial plagierist
      Master of all fabricated stories.
      Nobody should listen to this fellow
      There is nothing original that he has to offer .
      He just copies other people’s postings and claims it as his.
      Professor Charles Owolabi

  • Rommel

    Re-looting the Abacha loot

  • tundemash

    It’s just 2 more days to go, let’s tolerate their stealing for 2 more days !

  • Lemmuel Odjay

    Why do some of our brothers and sisters doubt us when we accuse our leaders of insincerity and of robbery? Foreigners have long known this, and now the Swiss have joined in indicting our leaders, saying they cannot be trusted with money. Nigerians accuse their leaders as being corrupt, the Swiss cannot trust our leaders to keep their fingers away from money repatriated from Abacha’s loot. Whose report shall we now believe?