An anti-corruption advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked the Federal Government to tell Nigerians how a total of $5bn Abacha loot so far recovered since 1999 has been spent.
The group wants the Federal Government to make known to Nigerians “details of projects executed with the Abacha loot and their locations; details of companies and contractors involved in the execution of any such projects; details of all the agreements on the loot, the roles played by the World Bank and other actors, as well as the implementation status of all projects since 1999.”
In a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, SERAP said the Federal Government had seven days to provide the information, failing which it would go to court.
He said SERAP had on February 14 sent a Freedom of Information request to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN).
The group said, “We are concerned that substantial part of the estimated $5bn returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been diverted, re-stolen or mismanaged, and in any case remain unaccounted for.
“Publishing the details of projects on which Abacha loot has been spent would allow the public to know the specific projects carried out and the areas of the country in which the projects have been implemented as well as the officials that may be responsible for any alleged diversion or mismanagement of the loot.
“Getting to the root of the exact amount of the Abacha loot and how the returned funds have been spent is important for the success of the government’s fight against grand corruption and would reassure Nigerians that the government is truly committed to ensuring full accountability for the alleged corruption and mismanagement in the spending of the funds.
“Failure or refusal to provide the information requested will be clearly inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the FoI Act. The accountability of government to the general public is a hallmark of modern democratic governance, a norm of human rights and a tool to curb corruption.
“If we have not heard from you within seven days as stated, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the FoI Act to compel you to comply with our request. Access to the details sought would allow Nigerians an opportunity to assess the impacts of any projects carried out with the funds.”