The Presidency has explained that the decision to share the $322million recovered Abacha’s loot to the poorest of the poor Nigerians was due to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the Swiss government and the network of Civil Societies (CSOs).
The Special Assistance (SA) to President on Judicial Reform, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku Nwagwu disclosed this in Abuja on Wednesday.
She also said that a Swiss Court had ordered the commencement of repatriation of Abacha loot on the condition that the World Bank would supervise utilization to prevent mismanagement and re-looting.
She was speaking at the Inception Meeting of the Monitoring Recovered Asset through Transparency and Accountability (MANTRA) Project organized by Africa Network of Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and the UKAID.
According to her, the Conditional Cash Transfer of the fund to the poor would also enable the mandatory involvement of the World Bank in the process, such that the money would be used in a subsisting programme of the Bank in Nigeria so as to enable it to use its existing monitoring and broader institutional resources to monitor the use of the funds.
Mrs Nwagwu who is also the National Coordinator of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) said that the funds for cash transfers were an outcome of months of negotiation that enabled the repatriation of the funds in the first place.
She also disclosed that that the United State has agreed to return the $900,000 stashed in the country by a former Governor of Balyelsa State, Depriye Alemeyesegha, adding that the United Kingdom is also in the process of returning the $73million from the Malabu Oil deal.
“The international community is watching us to see how we spend the repatriated Abacha loot; it is on that basis that the country would be able to access other stolen funds stashed up in foreign account,” she said.
She disclosed that the Cash Transfer Programme expected to kick off in July 2018 would be implemented in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT as against the 19 states that initially subscribe to the Social Investment Programme (SIP).
The Chairman, ANEEJ Board of Directors, Prof. Ben Aigbokhan, said that their campaign for looted assets is yielding dividends after its inception 20 years ago.
“This has contributed to processes of policy formulation and other activities, and this is a culmination of our commitment to the process of effective recovery and management of looted assets,” Aigbokhan said.
He added that their focus also has been to ensure that those who engage in range of corrupt activities that enables the looting of our collective resources are held to account for them.
He said that the project would go beyond just the monitoring of loots to more sustainable objective of establishing a regime for transparent, accountable return and utilization.
The ANEEJ Executive Director Rev David Ugolor, said the mandate of the CSOs is to ensure that the recovered looted funds were judiciously used.