Some Nigerian stakeholders have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to disclose spending details of all recovered funds for the past four years.
Reports that since the President Muhammadu Buhari’s first tenure when the Whistle-blowing policy was implemented on December 21 2016, the Federal Government via the anti-corruption programme has succeeded in recovering some looted government funds and assets from past leaders.
The FG on April 4, 2020 recovered over $311 million of the alleged stolen funds by the country’s former military ruler, General Sani Abacha, from the United States and Jersey.
On December 2017, Switzerland repatriated $322 million Abacha loot to the country as part of agreement between the two countries in 2004 during Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime.
Recall also that on August 14, 2020, the Republic of Ireland agreed to return about N2,514,651,800 (€5.5 million) stolen by Sani Abacha to Nigeria.
The Federal Government on July 28 2020, said it recovered over N800 billion in looted funds.
The Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, while confirming the amount recovered, said the government also secured the conviction of over 1,400 persons.
According to him, ”This administration’s fight against corruption is as strong as ever, and we have the records to back up this claim,” Mr Muhammed said.
“This administration has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of N800 billion, not to talk of forfeiture of ill-gotten properties. This is no mean feat,” he added.
In another development, The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on May 18 2021 said the government of the United Kingdom repatriated to Nigeria, the sum of £4.2million looted by associates and family members of a convicted former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.
According to Malami, The FG has recovered a total of $700 million looted funds in the last four years.
He also stated that the government “is still working with our international partners and other countries to ensure that all Nigeria’s assets that are identified are recovered.”
Recall that the United States Embassy in Nigeria on May 7 2020 revealed that another $319m (N121bn) Sani Abacha loot was in the United Kingdom and France.
Citing the current economic situation in the country, some Nigerians have demanded to know what has happened to the recovered funds.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III on Tuesday called on President Buhari to explain to Nigerians how his government spent the recovered fund.
He stated this in Sokoto State at zonal dialogue with stakeholders on the National Ethics and Integrity Policy, organized by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, in collaboration with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission for the northwest zone.
The Sultan who was represented by the Waziri Sokoto, Prof. Sambo Wali Junaidu, said keeping mum on the recovered loots despite questions from some Nigerians would have negative effects on the fight against corruption in the country.
“The government owes Nigerians an explanation, we want to know how much billions of naira was recovered from our past leaders. Where the monies are and what are they doing with them?
“This explanation is necessary considering the state of our education and other infrastructure like roads which need serious government attention,” he said
Similarly, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, a few days ago, asked President Buhari to disclose to Nigerians the spending details of the $700 million looted funds which the FG claimed it had recovered.
In a statement dated May 22, 2021 issued by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization also asked the president to disclose the list and location of projects completed with the money, as well as details of the contractors that executed the projects to enable Nigerians know the benefit of the fight against corruption to the nation.
SERAP said, “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.”
According to the Rights organization, the FG could suspend its move to borrow fresh N2.3trillion ($6.18bn) external loan and make use of the recovered loots to fund the 2021 budget.
An On-Air Personality, John Omale who spoke with news correspondent from Benue State said President Buhari needs to do the needful and clear the air on what looted funds have been used for.
According to him, “It is not just enough to tell us how much they have recovered. They should also tell us where the money has been channelled to.
“You can’t be recovering all these monies and still be borrowing as if the country has nothing in the treasury.
“We want to see the impact of that money. Which road have they constructed with the money”?
A member of the Nigerian Union of Teachers who preferred not to be mentioned in print for fear of victimisation said keeping mum on the use of the money would bring a setback in the fight against corruption.
“Personally, I appreciate President Buhari’s administration on the recovery so far. Until the administration came up, most of us were not aware that such money belonging to the nation was hanging somewhere.
“We have had other past administrations but none was able to go this far, so we must give them that accolades.
“I also think that being transparent on the issue would help them gain confidence from the society. Tell them what you have done with the money or what you intend to do with it”, she said.
Efforts to reach the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, for comment on the report proved abortive as at press time.
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