Saturday, September 18, 2021

$700 million recovered loot- Buhari issued a 14-day ultimatum to disclose spending details of funds

Over the $700 million recovered loot, President Muhammadu Buhari has been given a two-week deadline by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to direct the Minister of Finance to publicize spending funds allegedly recovered by the Federal Government during the last four years.

It asserted that this should include a list of projects executed with the funds, as well as the names and contact details for the contract workers who accomplished the work.

SERAP also implored Buhari to direct Mrs. Zainab Ahmed to reveal how the government plans to invest the recovered £4.2 million Ibori loot, which includes information of planned capital expenditure, and whether there is any way of ensuring that the money and any future given back Ibori loot is spent to achieve justice and ensure justice for victims of corrupt practices in Delta State, according to the group.

Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, declared last week that the Federal Government had recovered over $700 million in looted funds, as well as the return of £4.2 million connected to James Ibori and plans to return more than £80 million in Ibori loot.

The organization stated in a Freedom of Information request dated May 22, 2021 and approved by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare that

Disclosing spending details of the recovered $700m loot, and spending plans for the £4.2m Ibori loot would promote transparency, accountability, and be entirely consistent with your constitutional oath of office to ensure the well-being of Nigerians.

Rather than borrowing another N2.3trillion ($6.18bn) external loan, SERAP urges you to ensure transparent and accountable use of recovered loot to fund the 2021 budget, improve the country’s economy, and address widespread poverty. This would promote a just and honest government, and ensure that recovered loot is not re-stolen at the expense of the poor.

The letter further disclosed that

SERAP, therefore, urges you to withdraw your latest request seeking the approval of the National Assembly to borrow another $6.1billion in the public interests and to ensure accountable fiscal stewardship of Nigeria’s money for both current and future generations.

Providing the information and widely publishing the details would also enhance your government’s authority and credibility to demand the return of more looted public funds from abroad, as well as facilitate the repatriation of potentially billions of dollars still stashed in rich countries.

Your government has a legal obligation under the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure that recovered stolen public money is not embezzled again, and that any returned loot is spent for the benefit of the real victims of corruption and the ordinary Nigerians whose commonwealth has been stolen, and who continue to suffer the consequences of grand corruption.

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