By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – A group under the aegis of All Progressives Congress (APC) Grassroots Youth for Change has hailed the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, for debunking reports in some sections of the media in respect of the recently repatriated $322.5 million Abacha loot from Switzerland.
In a statement weekend in Abuja, National Coordinator of the group, Mr. Orlu Henry Manuchimso, said the clarifications that the money received was not $321 million as widely reported but $322.5 million was commendable, saying it spoke volumes about the transparency capital of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Orlu who noted that the public had been inundated with incorrect information aimed at discrediting not only the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), but also the Buhari administration.
The group described as “unwarranted, baseless, wicked and disingenuous” the desperate attempt to create confusion in the polity and cast aspersion on the integrity of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), and a team of legal consultants he engaged to complete the recovery and repatriation process.
“We have carefully followed and analysed the disturbing developments over the repatriated Abacha loot and have seen through the propaganda, blackmail and outright mischief sponsored by fifth columnists in the media, using an online newspaper and a group to discredit the AGF and a team of outstanding private lawyers he employed to complete the recovery and repatriation process.
“They started out by drumming it repeatedly that the entire process had been completed by Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer hired by the Nigerian government since 1999, to work on repatriating the Abacha loot, and went as far as contriving a quote from a supposed e-mail response from him to back it up, only to now reveal in a recent publication that ‘the repatriation of the $321 million was not completed by me (Monfrini).’”
“These desperate individuals also profusely lied against the Finance Minister that she refused to approve the payment of $16.9 million fees to the two lawyers engaged by the AGF for the recovery of the Abacha loot and that she also wrote a strongly-worded letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, raising objections to the payment. Both have since been debunked as false and unfounded.
“It is now obvious that if these detractors can so brazenly peddle and plant outright lies against a high-ranking Minister in a section of the media, there is nothing that suggests to us that they cannot also contrive an e-mail response from Monfrini, more so that they had previously lied in some publications that the Swiss had completed the entire process and the money was only awaiting repatriation.”
The group, however, described as a welcome development, the use of Nigerian lawyers to complete the repatriation, noting that two things have been gained by the country in the process: “the far less percentage charged on the assets repatriation by our lawyers to get the money in, and also the fact these lawyers have gained more experience that could be deployed in future, instead of relying outright on foreign firms.
“We urge those behind this ridiculous smear campaigns to desist; they should shift their focus to supporting the World Bank in the monitoring of the expenditure of the repatriated $322.5 million so that we can all ensure that the projects the recovered funds will be utilised for are faithfully implemented.
“This is where the National Assembly’s oversight is also obligatory, to monitor judicious expenditure of the money on specified and mutually-agreed national investments and safety nets’ projects with the World Bank and not the investigation of payment of service charges to Nigerian lawyers who completed the process of repatriation, as has just been initiated by the House of Representatives through the setting up of an ad-hoc committee.”