The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), on Sunday, February 16; implored the Federal Government to “disclose within 7 days of the details of spending of about $5 billion recovered Abacha loot since the return of democracy in 1999.”
SERAP further wants the FG to “disclose details of projects executed with the Abacha loot; and also their locations; details of companies; as well as contractors involved in the execution of any such projects since 1999.”
This ultimatum was contained in two Freedom of Information requests sent to Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; and Mr. Abubakar Malami; Attorney General of the Federation; and Minister of Justice.
SERAP said: “We are concerned that substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been diverted; re-stolen or mismanaged; and in any case remain unaccounted for.”
In the FoI requests dated 14 February 2020 and also signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare; the organization continued: “Publishing the details of projects on which Abacha loot has been spent; would allow the public to know the specific projects carried; and likewise 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.”
According to SERAP: “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.
“This would reassure Nigerians that the government is truly committed; to ensuring full accountability for the alleged corruption as well as mismanagement in the spending of the funds.
“Any failure or refusal to provide the information requested will be clearly inconsistent with the letter; and also 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.”
The FoI requests read in part: “If we have not heard from you within 7 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.”