BENIN CITY, NIGERIA. August 18, 2020… The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a leading Civil Society Organisation working on issues of assets recovery has welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Irish and Nigerian governments for the return of €5.5 million stolen by a former military head of state, General Sani Abacha, urging the federal government to publish details of the MoU.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, the Rev David Ugolor while welcoming the latest agreement on the return of Abacha IV loot from Island noted that such disclosure by the Federal Government should make clear obligations on both countries and more importantly what development projects or programme the money would be spent on.
“We are concerned that Nigerians are not yet aware what the money will be spent on after signing the MoU, contrary to what was done in the past. At the signing of MoU for the return of $321.5million Abacha II plus the $1.5million interest that accrued from Switzerland, Nigerians were told that the money would be spent on the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme. When the MoU for the of $311.9million Abacha III from Bulwark of Jersey and the United States of America, Nigerians were told the money will be spent on three legacy projects of: Second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Express Way and the Lagos-Ibadan Express Way. Now an MoU has been signed between Ireland and our Federal Government for the return of €5.5 million Abacha Loot IV and Nigerians are not aware where that money will go into,” Ugolor queried.
Rev Ugolor announced the preparedness of ANEEJ to monitor the use of Abacha lll and Abacha IV loot under its MANTRA project and also urge the Federal Government to comply with her commitment to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) Principles by briefing Nigerians on the contents of the MoU it signed with Ireland on behalf of victims of corruption in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that the Irish Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, last Thursday announced the signing of the MoU with Nigeria for the return of the assets. The Minister had said the return of the asset followed a forfeiture order by a high court in Ireland in 2015 and is the first from Ireland to Nigeria as a demonstration of the country’s commitment to international obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption.
The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice have been campaigning for the return of looted assets from foreign jurisdictions back to Nigeria to finance development and fight poverty which is assuming frightening dimensions with Covid-19 pandemic and serious humanitarian crisis arising from insurgency and other insecurity challenges facing the most populous African nation.
ANEEJ is working with 8 partners across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria under the MANTRA project being currently supported by DFID. They are: Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) Abuja (North Central), Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRISED), Kano (North West), Bayelsa Non-Governmental Forum (BANGOF),Yenagoa (South-South), FAHIMTA Women and Youth Development Initiative (FAWOYDI) ( North East), New Initiative for Social Development (NISD), Ado-Ekiti (South West) and Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), Enugu (South East).
The rest are: -Economic Research and Development Centre (SERDEC) Lokoja, New Apostolic Church Centre for Development (NAC), GRA, Benin City which focus on behavior change programmes of MANTRA.