….calls for Buhari’s immediate intervention
By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- AN anti-Corruption watchdog, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, yesterday, expressed concern over stoppage of cash disbursement to Nigerians from the repatriated $322.5 million Abacha loot from Switzerland .
The Executive Director, ANEEJ, and Convener of Civil Society Organisations monitoring the disbursement of the returned asset, Rev David Ugolor, made the assertion in a statement, where Ugolor pointed that the disbursement stopped since June 2021.
He called on Buhari to remember the Memorandum of Understanding the Federal Government of Nigeria, and Switzerland Government signed by both countries at the maiden edition of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery, GFAR, Summit held in Washington DC in 2017.
He also mentioned the World Bank witnessed the process, which he called on the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to move together with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development for holistic implementation of the MoU in order to conclude transparently on the cash transfer disbursement as it was at the beginning whereby its success story was celebrated globally.
However, he (Ugolor) recalled that payment made from the $322.5 million reached 76 per cent between September 2020 and June 2021, no payment was made to the poor beneficiaries ostensibly, which according to him was due to change of leadership at the National Cash Transfer Office and system strengthening process, but wondered halt in payment till now.
He said: “The last major payment cycle was May/June 2021. Payment and reconciliation of accounts was completed in 24 States (Abia, Adamawa, Cross Rivers, FCT, Bayelsa, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina Bauchi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Lagos, Plateau, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ebonyi, Sokoto, Taraba. Between July 2021 and December 2021, there was clearing of backlog owed beneficiaries in the previous year (2020) in Benue, Nasarawa, Ekiti, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara, Yobe and Rivers which were at different payment cycle.”
He also disclosed that the monitors established indicated that as at May/June 2021 a total number of 1, 632, 206 beneficiaries in 33 States excluding Edo, Enugu, Ondo and Kebbi were on the payment schedule list. A total of 812, 721 households were paid while total unpaid households stood at 819, 485.
According to him, total amount paid so far is N8, 528,950,000.00 billion representing 76 per cent of the returned loot while the balance yet to be disbursed is put at N2,329,020,000.00 billion.
Meanwhile, the ANEEJ boss made it known that four States had issues with their Payment Service Operators, PSPs, since their last payment in December 2019 but had been resolved, and added that the poor in these states yet to receive any payment up till date (March 2022), and the States include Edo, Enugu, Ondo and Kebbi, which he called on the NCTO authorities to pay the poor in these states.
The Abacha loot disbursement is projected to achieve optimal disbursement by May/June 2022 payment cycle, but ANEEJ fears that this target will be missed if payments do not continue.