By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to disclose spending details of the $700 million looted funds reportedly recovered by the Federal Government in the past four years.
SERAP also urged Buhari to disclose how the government plans to spend the returned £4.2m loot, including details of planned capital expenditure, and whether there is any plan to ensure that the money and any future returned loot would be spent to achieve justice and effective remedies for victims of corruption in Delta State.
Recall that The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, had last week stated that the Federal Government recovered over $700m looted funds, disclosed the return of £4.2m linked to James Ibori, and the plan to repatriate more than £80m of Ibori loot.
In the Freedom of Information, FoI, request, dated May 22, 2021 by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization also demanded disclosure of the list and location of projects completed with the money, as well as details of the contractors that executed the projects.
SERAP maintained that: “Disclosing spending details of the recovered $700m loot, and spending plans for the £4.2m loot would promote transparency, accountability, and be entirely consistent with your constitutional oath of office to ensure the well-being of Nigerians.”
The organization stresed that rather than borrowing another N2.3trillion ($6.18bn) external loan, Buhari should ensure a transparent and accountable use of recovered loot to fund the 2021 budget, improve the country’s economy, and address widespread poverty.
The letter, read in part: “SERAP therefore urges you to withdraw your latest request seeking the approval of the National Assembly to borrow another $6.1billion in the public interests, and to ensure accountable fiscal stewardship of Nigeria’s money for both current and future generations.
“Providing the information and widely publishing the details would also enhance your government’s authority and credibility to demand the return of more looted public funds from abroad, as well as facilitate the repatriation of potentially billions of dollars still stashed in rich countries.
“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended]; the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.
“Our requests are also entirely in line with the judgment by Justice Mohammed Idris ordering your government to widely publish up-to-date information on recovered stolen funds since the return of civilian rule in 1999. Your government has refused to obey the judgment, despite publicly promising to do so.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”