Don’t Share $322m Abacha Loot Among Some Nigerians, Group Tells Buhari
The rain of late General Sani Abacha's money on Nigerians may never happen, if President Muhammadu Buhari will consider the demands a group is making as regards the $350 million (around 115 billion Naira) loot recovered from the former military leader.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is insisting that sharing the recovered loot among estimated 300,000 households in Nigeria, with each getting around $14 (around 5,000 Naira) a month is “mis-targeted and would not bring any tangible benefits to the beneficiaries.”
In a statement, SERAP's deputy director, Timothy Adewale, reminded the Buhari administration that "the authorities have a legal obligation under the UN Convention against Corruption, to which Nigeria is a state party, to make sure that the returned Abacha loot is properly and efficiently used, both from the viewpoint of using asset recovery as a tool of ensuring justice to victims of corruption and breaking the cycle of grand corruption".
He believes that the "plan to share the loot among households is mere tokenism and would neither have significant impact on poverty alleviation nor satisfy the twin objectives of justice and development".
The government announced last week that it would, starting from July, distribute the returned loot by the Swiss authorities to around 300,000 households, with each getting around $14 a month.
The group further recommended what the government should do with the funds.
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“Rather than spending the loot to fund the National Social Safety Net Program (NAASP), President Buhari should, within the framework of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), create a central recovery account/trust funds, with oversight mechanisms to ensure repatriated funds are transparently and accountably spent to invest in tangible projects that would improve access of those living in poverty to essential public services such as water, education and health.
“The return of the Abacha loot is a chance for President Buhari to commit to the enforcement of the 2016 judgement by Justice Mohammed Idris, which ordered his government to publish the spending of recovered loot since 1999 by past and present governments till date, as well as details of projects on which the funds were spent; and to vigorously push the National Assembly to pass the Proceeds of Crime Bill.
"Buhari should make these happen before the next general elections if he is to truly demonstrate his oft-repeated commitment to fight grand corruption,” the group insisted.
It also recommended that the "government should source funds elsewhere to continue its NAASP.
''The authorities should do the right thing with the returned loot and show Nigerians that they can properly and efficiently invest the funds in projects that would provide tangible benefits to the victims of corruption who are the socially and economically vulnerable sectors of the population'' the group continued.
President Buhari had, during the 2015 campaigns, prior to his election as president, made the recovery of stolen assets one thing that his administration would pursue.
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