28th August 2018

Benin City, Nigeria…The Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice, ANEEJ, has hailed the return of 70million pounds seized from an unnamed Nigerian in the UK, and has called on the Nigerian government to put the funds to use on a legacy project under transparent and accountable terms.

ANEEJ, executive director, the Rev David Ugolor who made the call shortly after the announcement by British ambassador Mr. Paul Arkwright said that every kobo of Nigerian money stashed in the UK will be returned following a review of the UK’s judicial processes.

‘The British government has put our money where their mouth has been. In 2016, they organized the anti-corruption conference under the heavy stigma that Nigeria is a ‘fantastically corrupt’ nation. Even though that conference eventually led to Nigeria’s signing on to the Open Government Partnership, OGP, and committing to work under 14 thematic areas, most of the stolen assets in the UK remained in UK vaults. Even though a considerable and systemic overhaul of its judicial systems led to the unexplained wealth orders, UWO, upon which Nigeria wove its Voluntary Assets & Incomes Declaration Schemata,  Nigerian monies were still trapped in the UK’, the Rev Ugolor said.

As a direct outcome of the first Global Forum on Asset Recovery, GFAR, in the US in 2017, Switzerland signed a memorandum of Understanding with Nigeria to return $322million of the Abacha loot.  Based on that MoU, ANEEJ has commenced the implementation of the Monitoring of Returned Assets through Transparency & Accountability, MANTRA, project, under the DFID Anti-Corruption in Nigeria programme. The MANTRA seeks to strengthen the capacity of CSOs and citizens to be involved in the returned loot. It also seeks to embark on advocacy to improve the policy, legislative and institutional framework for the recovery and management of looted assets in Nigeria.

‘Nigeria must move swiftly and apply the same set of transparency and accountability rules for the Abacha loot with the just-returned loot from the UK. To that end, it should endeavour to avoid the unnecessary controversy generated by the utilisation of the Abacha loot by expending the loot from the UK on a legacy project targeted on an attitudinal change for all Nigerians’ Rev Ugolor added.