A coalition of 14 Nigerian civil society groups have asked the incoming administration of Muhammadu Buhari to discard a secret agreement reached by the outgoing Goodluck Jonathan administration, to spare the Abacha family of prosecution over billions of dollars stolen from Nigeria.
The funds were stashed in Swiss and other European banks.
The groups asked the UK, U.S. and Swiss governments, along with the World Bank and the international communities to reject the agreement and suspend further negotiations with the Nigerian government on the repatriation of all recovered funds, until all issues surrounding the agreement were resolved.
Besides, the group wants the Jonathan administration to render account on how other recovered Abacha loots were utilized.
The Coordinator of the Nigeria Network on Stolen Assets (NNSA), David Ugolor, also asked for an independent committee comprising the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Extractive industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), and civil society groups to investigate and reconcile all the issues surrounding the recovered and repatriated Abacha loot.
PREMIUM TIMES had on Friday blew the lid on the deal between the government and the Abacha family, kept secret for several months since July 14, 2014 when President Jonathan authorized his Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, to approve the terms on behalf of the Federal Government.
The agreement grants members of the Abacha family perpetual reprieve against criminal prosecution either in Nigeria or abroad, in exchange for a sizeable portion of the loot to be repatriated by the Swiss government.
But, the groups said the deal was replete with “unacceptable, misleading and generally inimical irregularities” in breach of globally accepted standards and templates in the fight against corruption as contained in Article 5 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
The agreement, which binds Nigeria without recourse to relevant institutions in Nigeria, like the National Assembly and civil society organization, “is nothing but a slap on the wrist” for the Abacha family, the group said.
They therefore called on the incoming administration to reject the agreement in its entirely, as it would not only set a strong precedent for more corruption and endanger Nigeria’s fledgling democracy, but also create room for impunity to thrive.
The coalition urged the In-coming administration to live up to its anti-corruption stance by fast tracking the signing into law of the Proceeds of Crime Bill (POCA) to provide the legal framework for how stolen wealth would be utilized for the benefit of the people.
The coalition consists of Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP); Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice (ANEEJ); Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative; Say No Campaign Nigeria; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).
Other members of the group focusing on corruption, transparency and accountability, procurement, human rights, youth and women issues include Spaces for Change, Nigeria; Publish What You Pay Nigeria Campaign; Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC); Development Alliance for Niger Delta (DAND); West Africa Civil Society forum (WASF); Zero- Corruption Coalition (ZCC) and Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL).
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