The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to “thoroughly investigate the role and involvement of the World Bank in the repatriation, management and spending of repatriated ‘Abacha loot’”.
In the new report, the group also recommended that the government should probe other similar funds, with a view to ensuring full transparency and accountability in the transactions.
The report also called on the World Bank to “publicly disclose the level of involvement of the bank in the repatriation of Abacha’s stolen funds and other similar funds to Nigeria and its role on the management and spending of such funds, as well as the projects on which the funds were spent.
“The World Bank should publicly disclose its involvement in any other ongoing repatriation initiatives to Nigeria and the mechanisms it is putting in place to ensure transparency and accountability of such mechanisms and the judicious use of repatriated funds”.
The report also urged the Buhari government to “revisit and challenge in court unfair Settlements in Bribery Cases by successive governments and repatriation agreement between the government of Goodluck Jonathan and the family of the late General Sani Abacha dated 14 July 2014 and other similar dodgy and unfair agreements with a view to getting better deals, receiving damages/compensations from companies such as Halliburton, and achieving justice for the Nigerian people”.
In the 37 pages report launched on Monday at the Westown Hotels, Lagos and entitled: Deterring Kleptocracy: Finding Nigeria’s Re-Stolen Billions and Repatriating Looted Assets, the group disclosed that over $3 billion recovered Abacha loot; $87 million stolen funds by the former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun and over $20 million stolen funds by former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha among others may have disappeared or been mismanaged by successive governments.
The report highlights some of the missing recovered funds to include: “$1,000,000,000–Swiss’ government Mutual Legal Assistance, up to 2012; $800,000,000 – General Abubakar-led domestic recovery, 1999; $233,795,000–Principality of Liechtenstein’s returned funds, June 2014; $198,484,000 – Ajaokuta Steel Plant debt buy-back case, 2003; $160,000,000– Jersey’s global asset recovery for Nigeria, 2003; and $36,016,200 –Jersey’s recovered funds from Mr Bhojwani, in 2012″.
The Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said: “President Buhari should make sure that never again will the prerogative of mercy be used to save corrupt officials and grant impunity for corruption as it was done by the former President Goodluck Jonathan with respect to corruption cases against Diepreye Alameiseigha.
“The constitution imposes some ethical conditions on the President to ensure that the exercise of the discretionary power of prerogative of mercy is not such that it will encourage corruption or provide an escape route for perpetrators”.
‘Looted Asset Fund’
The report accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of “playing a major role in dislocating the efforts made by his predecessors”.
It said: “There are indicators that informal arrangements were made with his administration to scuttle the asset recovery process, including negotiating a cancellation of all civil litigations against the Abacha family. In addition, during the Jonathan administration, former Governor Alamieyeseigha was granted state pardon without serving the full terms for crimes worth millions of dollars in state funds”.
The group also urged President Buhari to improve upon and vigorously enforce laws on financial disclosure to require government officials to annually disclose and widely publish information about their income, assets, liabilities, and positions held outside public office.
It wants the President to set up a Looted Asset Fund in the Presidency or Ministry of Finance to provide a framework that would allow the appropriate and transparent management of the proceeds of corruption recovered by the government.