By Gabriel Ewepu
IN a bid for judicious use of recovered $322.5million loot by Nigeria’s former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha, the Switzerland Government has signed a $50,000 contract with the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, for the completion of the independent Civil Society monitoring of the recovered loot being distributed to poor Nigerians through the Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, programme of the Buhari-led administration.
This was made known by the Executive Director, ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor, in a statement where Ugolor explained that the contract is for the implementation of MANTRA II signed by Mr. Holger Tausch, on behalf of the Division Global Institutions, of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FFDA), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and ANEEJ.
According to Ugolor the contract spans for one year beginning November 2021 covering eight per cent of the total monitoring funds for the project.
The statement reads in part, “The agreement is coming after a couple of meetings between the Swiss Government, ANEEJ and other stakeholders to ensure the realization of the tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Nigeria and Switzerland on the side of the inaugural Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) Summit held in Washington DC in December 2017.
“By virtue of article 13 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) 2003, states parties to the Convention are mandated to involve Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the combat of corruption. Combating corruption necessarily includes involvement of CSOs in the recovery, repatriation and management of recovered assets.
“In compliance with the above UNCAC regulation, the Federal Government of Nigeria agreed a Terms of Reference with Nigeria Civil Society Organisations for the purpose of monitoring the returned $322.5million Abacha loot states as the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government of Nigeria, the World Bank and the Government of Switzerland established a framework for the return of the funds as well as the monitoring mechanism of the funds.
“ANEEJ in the ToR was saddled with the responsibility of leading Civil Society independent monitoring of the returned assets under the aegis of Network on Asset Recovery (NAR).”
He further stated that it would be recalled that the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) under its Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (ACORN) programme in April 2018 provided funding for the ANEEJ-led MANTRA project to carry out end to end independent monitoring of the disbursement of the returned loot.
“Following the downturn in global economy occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCDO stopped funding of the project in January 2021.
“ANEEJ and its partners have kept an eye on the disbursement since then until reprieve came their way from the Swiss Government committed to ensuring the successful disbursement.
“Already, ANEEJ has commenced first phase of spot checks and upstream monitoring of the fund’s disbursement to the poor in some selected states across the country. A report is expected before the end of the year 2021”, he added.