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‘There Must Be Transparency In The Use Of Recovered Loot’

Ugolor

Ugolor

Nigerians in Benin City, the Edo State Capital yesterday urged the federal government to ensure accountability in the use of funds so far recovered by the federal government.

They believed that power remains a major challenge to Nigerians, stressing that part of the funds should be used to improve power supply.

According to Ben Ogbemudia: “The power sector should be the focus of government.

Another resident, Onaivi Jimoh said that government should focus on roads

“The previous government started several roads across the country and work has stopped in many and one is not sure if all have been captured in this year’s budget due to financial crunch.

“I think these monies being recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and those coming from other countries should be channeled to the transport sector.”

In the same vein, a coalition of civil society groups both in Europe and Nigeria had in an open letter called for transparent use of the recovered loots.

The letter which was addressed to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, Nigeria Federal Department for Foreign Affairs Office for International public law (DDIP), Switzerland and The World Bank, the coalition lamented the diversion of previous recovered loots to other uses.
    They are particularly concerned on the planned repatriation of $321 million from the Swiss government.

“In the coming months, your authorities will agree on the terms for restitution from Switzerland of a sum of 321 million US dollars that was confiscated from Sani Abacha, the former Nigerian dictator, and his entourage. These funds are due to be returned following the abandonment of criminal proceedings, which had been ongoing until 2014 in Switzerland, against his son, who was suspected of having laundered funds misappropriated by his father. Through the application of a confidential agreement between the Nigerian authorities and the Abacha clan in 2014, Geneva’s judicial authorities agreed to halt these proceedings. In exchange, the Abacha clan accepted that the funds, which had been frozen in Luxembourg, should be returned to the Nigerian government. The agreement established that its usage should be monitored by the World Bank.

In 2005, Switzerland already returned hundreds of millions of francs to authorities in Abuja that had been seized from accounts belonging to the former Nigerian president and his clan. However, this restitution – the first of this scale for Swiss authorities – encountered complications. The sums returned were paid to the Nigerian government from the Bank for International Settlements so they could be allocated to projects of public interest. Under pressure from Swiss and Nigerian civil society organisations, the World Bank established a monitoring scheme, a posteriori, and recognised that it was impossible to know exactly how these funds had been used.

In 2006, Swiss and Nigerian NGOs had criticised the fact that some of the funds returned to Nigeria had been allocated to development projects that had already been completed or didn’t exist. Then, in 2014, Liechtenstein returned 203 million dollars, which had been misappropriated by Sani Abacha and his clan to Nigeria. The press also revealed in February 2016 that these funds had been returned with a lack of suitable precautions. Intended to be used by Goodluck Jonathan’s government to purchase weapons to fight the terrorist group Boko Haram, they have apparently vanished without trace. In these circumstances, and in order to avoid history from repeating itself again, the signatory organisations wish to share their concerns relating to the terms established for the restitution of the 321 million francs held in Switzerland, such that: – In line with the principles recommended by the Swiss authorities, the funds returned must be allocated to improving the living conditions of the Nigerian population.



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