19 September, 2018.
ABUJA—The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, has thrown its weight behind the accountable distribution of returned $322.5million returned Abacha loot to the poorest of the poor under the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme of the Federal Government scheduled to begin in October this year, according to the Cash Transfer Office.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, the Rev David Ugolor stated this at the flag-off of a two-day Training-of-Trainers (ToT) workshop organized for supervisors and Deputy Supervisors of monitors drawn from the six-geopolitical zones of the country ahead of the independent monitoring of the returned loot by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) as part of activities lined out for the implementation of Transparency and Accountability in the recovery and management of loot Assets (MANTRA).
The federal government of Nigeria announced to Nigerians that the $322.5m will be used to support the poorest of the poor through the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme which is also called Household Uplifting Programme. The cash transfer programme has been on since last year with funding from the national budget and a loan facility from the World Bank.
“The involvement of ANEEJ in the returned Abacha loot process is built on the fact that we were part of the MoU between Switzerland and Nigeria for the repatriation of this tranche of Abacha loot. This level of recognition given to a civil society organisation in an agreement between two sovereign states is unprecedented. We therefore have a unique opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of having civil society deeply involved in such processes. And the best way to do this is by ensuring that there is utmost transparency and accountability in the use of such repatriated assets for the benefits of Nigerians,” Rev David Ugolor told the workshop participants.
“As part of the implementation of the Monitoring of Recovered Assets in Nigeria through Transparency and Accountability (MANTRA) project with support from UKAID, ANEEJ is working with six partners to monitor the use of the Abacha loot in the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme across states that are implementing the programme.
“The training that you will be undergoing in the next two days is to prepare you for that monitoring exercise. At a broader level, our objective is for this training to deepen your understanding and experience about the role of civil society in processes to ensure the transparent and accountable recovery and utilization of looted assets in Nigeria.
“By your selection and participation in this training through our Partners, you are now an integral part of this process and we hope and believe that we can all demonstrate the needed enthusiasm and commitment to the achievement of these objectives,” Ugolor stated.
It would be recalled that in December 2017, the Swiss government repatriated funds stolen from Nigeria by the late Gen. Sani Abacha. A total of $322.5m was repatriated comprising $321m and $1.5m interest. This was about the last trench of money kept in Swiss Banks by Nigeria’s former leader. This followed a period of negotiations between the Nigeria government and Swiss government before the MoU for the return of the loot was signed during the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) held in Washington in December 2017.