By Soni Daniel
Abuja – The Nigerian Government has geared efforts towards repatriating $321 million looted fund from Switzerland before the end of the year.
The announcement was made Monday by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Justice Reforms, Mrs Juliet Ibekaku, at an Anti-corruption Campaign organised by the Centre for Democratic Development in Abuja.
Ibekaku said that as a result of the efforts so far made by the present administration part of the Malabu fund held by the court in the United Kingdom had been recovered.
The presidential aide said, “We are also working to finalise the process for the return of $321m and by December, we are going to sign the MoU for the return of the money held in Switzerland.
“I am happy to also note here that some Civil Society Organisations working in the area of asset recovery were involved in the negotiation of the MOU and will be involved in monitoring the assets.
“This is to ensure that the returned funds are managed in a transparent manner as other recovery plans continue in countries like UK, Island of Jersey and France,’’ she said.
Ibekaku said that the Federal Government had also opened up discussion with the U.S. government for the return of the money that left that country for two or three years from 2013.
The official said the recovery mission was hinged on the Open Government Partnership Initiative which was committed to four thematic areas: Transparency, Anti-corruption, Access to information, Citizen Engagement and Empowerment.
The presidential aide said the president also directed all the law enforcement agencies to put all recovered money in the central account.
Ibekaku said that the president also directed that asset recovery should now be ploughed into the budget to fund part of it, starting from 2017 “so that is what the money is being used for.
She said all the money being recovered by anti-corruption agencies would go into such to fund part of the budget.
The Executive Director of CDD, Ms Idayat Hassan, said that the event was organized with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa and the Department for International Development.
According to her, the event is getting answers to some questions on the recovered money.
Hassan said that it was obvious that tackling corruption remained one of President Buhari’s main priorities.
She said it was in line with the president’s vision that the event was organised, to provide a platform for constructive review and interrogate government’s approach to anti-graft campaign.
The executive director, said the platform also sought to proffer alternative opinions for robust, effective and sustained interventions in the anti-corruption fight and effective usage of the recovered money.
She called on the government to carry Nigerians along on the amount recovered so far and how the money was being spent to boost their confidence on the administration’s policies and programmes.