On The Repatriation of Funds Looted By General Sani Abacha
On May 4, 2020, the Attorney General of the federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami announced that the federal government has received over three hundred and eleven million dollars of the looted funds of former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha.
The money was from the United States and Bailiwick of Jersey.
The Attorney General of the federation and Minister Of Justice had in February travelled to the United States to represent Nigeria in the signing of the tripartite agreement between the governments of Nigeria, the United States and Bailiwick of Jersey for the repatriation of the looted funds.
The asset recovery agreement from the meeting was that the funds would be expended on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, second Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kano expressway.
During the five-year regime of late General Sani Abacha, about five billion dollars were stolen and transferred to offshore accounts with the aid of some multinational companies.
However, since 1999, over two billion dollars had so far been recovered from diverse countries.
Some of the recovered looted funds had been expended on some projects and served as funds for the execution of Conditional Cash Transfers, CCT, the social intervention programme of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
There is no doubt that Nigeria has suffered greatly from the effects of corruption.
Reports have it that ten to fifty per cent of public procurement funds are diverted and laundered abroad.
US Department of Justice is accusing the Nigerian government of planning to handover about one hundred million dollars to an alleged ally of the late head of state, though this has been denied by the federal government.
To this end, the United States Justice Department has warned that Nigeria must spend the repatriated funds on the agreed public projects or refund it.
Governments of countries where the looted funds were saved are still in shock that the allies’ of late General Abacha are still walking freely in the society and holding top political posts in Nigeria.
In line with the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari, the federal government must be able to investigate, identify and prosecute those who looted public funds.
The government must be able to ensure and inform the world that recovered looted funds are not re-looted.
Nigeria is one of the one hundred sixty signatories to the United Nations Convention against Corruption that makes stolen assets recovery an international priority in the fight against corruption.
The practice of spending funds without parliamentary approval violates the constitution.
The National Assembly should approve all expenditure through supplementary appropriation bills, even where agreements are made to use the funds for specific projects.
The federal government must show more commitment to the fight against corruption by making it known that looters are punished and not rewarded.