Home Nigeria 2019: Group monitors FG’s spending of $322.5m Abacha loot

2019: Group monitors FG’s spending of $322.5m Abacha loot

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Against allegations that the retuned Abacha loot was being used for political campaigns for the 2019 elections, the United Kingdom Agency for International Department (UKAID) sponsored programme has begun the monitoring of the Federal Government’s spending of $322.5million looted funds recovered from former Head of State late General Sani Abacha being disbursed to the poorest Nigerians.

Executive Director of a civil society organization, Africa Network for Environment And Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor who disclosed this while briefing journalists yesterday in Abuja, said 504 field monitors, eleven supervisors and 22 deputy supervisors drawn from members of the Nigerian Network on Stolen Asset, NNSA have been dispatched to monitor the Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT to the poorest of the poor.

Rev. Ugolor said that so far, the distribution of the funds was being done through the Transparency and Accountability in the recovery and management of looted assets project.

Following the London anti-corruption summit held in 2016 and the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) in 2017, a total of $322.5million was returned from Switzerland to Nigeria. The returned loot is also known as ‘Abacha 2’.

He explained that the initial monitoring process was to fact-checked the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to the poorest of the poor in 11 states, focused on 300,000beneficiaries of the scheme.

He said sixteen states have beneficiaries from the August-September round of disbursement.

According to him, “Last month, we successfully piloted monitoring arrangements “the MANTRA model” aimed at covering cash transfers to 300,000 of the poorest Nigerians and assess the impact on their lives. The pilot was in two states, Nasarawa and Cross River.

“Last week, we deployed 504 field monitors, eleven supervisors and 22 deputy supervisors drawn from members of the Nigerian Network on Stolen Asset, NNSA, and other civil society organizations across the country to fact-check the Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, to the poorest of the poor in eleven states with the hope of covering more states in subsequent exercise. This is based on our 10 percent sample size approximated at 300,000 Cash Transfer beneficiaries.”

The returned loot fund followed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed by the Governments of Nigeria and Switzerland with active CSOs participation led by ANEEJ, earmarking the money specifically for the Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme under the Government’s Social Investment Programme, monitored by the World Bank.

Specifically, the money was earmarked to be spent on the poorest of the poor Nigerians whose status were appraised and arrived at by the National Safety-Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) under the supervision of the Office of the Vice President.

Under the MoU signed for the repatriation of the funds, it wa stated clear and in unequivocal terms the modalities for the return of the money, its usage, monitoring both locally and abroad, international and local organisations that would ensure that the money is utilized for the benefit of the poor, downtrodden and the underprivileged persons in Nigeria.

The idea is to ensure that the Nigerian officials to be involved in the management of the funds do not convert them into personal benefits or foster corruption in the society or use for political gerrymandering.

Ugolor further explained that ANEEJ was monitoring the recovered $322.5 million Abacha loot through Transparency and Accountability in the recovery and Management of Looted Assets (MANTRA) project, which is being supported by the UKAID implementers of the Anti-Corruption In Nigeria (ACORN) Programme.

He said that a constructive partnership with the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO), and National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) resulting in CSOs having viewing access to all necessary information, including the beneficiary from the Central Bank, with an ultimate aim of ensuring that the money gets to the targeted poorest of the poor and that it is not re-looted as was the case with previously returned Abacha loot.

Ugolor said the team covered the following geo-political zones/states: North West-Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa; North-Central-Nasarawa, Niger,Kwara and Benue, North East-Bauchi and Gombe; South-East-Anambra and South South – Cross River.

“On the field, we covered targeted households and preliminary reports from monitors across the 11 states showed clearly that the money disbursed in the first trench got to the poorest of the poor.

“I was amazed in a community in Nasarawa State where the beneficial even knew that the money they got in October was from the returned Abacha loot. We plan to continue the monitoring exercise in January when the next round of disbursement by the NTCO for November/December would have happened and we hope to cover states, local governments and wards not covered in this first exercise.

“We plan to follow the money until the last dollar exchanged gets to the beneficiaries targeted by the returned loot.”

Ugolor commended the office of the Vice President in particular, National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO), and National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) and Central Bank for providing data in an open and transparent manner “that is unprecedented in the history of this country. The unalloyed cooperation we received from them is reflective of the success we are getting in the field already.”

He explained that it has become necessary to throw light on the Abacha loot funds which disbursement has been politicised.

Source: Vanguard NG

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Isn’t it better to put the money back into the economy? To make the lives of Nigerians better? Talking about the power sector for instance.

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