By Nwafor Sunday
In response to reported statement by President Muhammadu Buhari, that former dictator, Sani Abacha, ‘stole close to $1billion’, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Saturday faulted Buhari’s submission, saying that Abacha stole far more than $1billion.
The group cited Transparency International report, which submitted that ‘Abacha may have stolen between $3bn and $5bn in public money’.
Recall that Buhari had in his article titled “Post-Coronavirus, Africa’s Manufacturing Moment”, published on Newsweek.com, said, “Nigeria can now move forward with road, rail and power station construction in part, under own resources-thanks to close to a billion dollars of funds stolen from the people of Nigeria under a previous, undemocratic junta in the 1990s that have now been returned to our country from the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland.
“That these friendly nations agreed to return these funds after so long is testament to the fact that, thanks to our governance reforms, Nigeria is rightly seen as an increasingly stable and beneficial place to transact and invest.”
Responding to the above, SERAP, said Abacha’s money was far more than that and asked Buhari to:
- Clarify this statement
- Immediately enforce the judgment by Justice M. Idris ordering his government to publish spending details on recovered assets by governments since 1999
- Instruct the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami to properly respond to our FoI request on Abacha loot.
Recall also that the federal government had on May 28, 2020, opened technical bids for the monitoring and implementation of the $311m Abacha loot recently repatriated to Nigeria from United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
Reacting, Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, said the fund is specially dedicated to the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Abuja-Kano road, and the Second Niger Bridge.
SERAP had also, yesterday, called on President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo to use the 5th anniversary of their government to immediately publish details of their asset declarations with the Code of Conduct Bureau, and to instruct ministers and advisers to do the same.
“Without open asset declarations, it will remain difficult to hold politicians to account, and politicians will continue to hide high value assets, potential conflicts of interests, including business deals with companies that have government contracts, illegal transfers of funds.
“The United Nations Convention against Corruption, which Nigeria has ratified promotes open asset declarations as a way for citizens to ensure leaders do not abuse their power for personal gain, thus promoting integrity in politics”, the group said in a statement.