$322.5milloin Abacha Loot: ANEEJ Raises Alarm over Stoppage of payment, Urges Buhari’s intervention
ABUJA, NIGERIA. March 17, 2022… Anti-Corruption watchdog, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) leading Civil Society independent monitoring of the disbursement of the $322.5million repatriated from Switzerland under the Cash Transfer Programme of the Federal Government has raised alarm over the stoppage of cash disbursements to the poor Nigerians since June last year, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene immediately.
Executive Director of ANEEJ and Convener of Civil Society Organisations monitoring the disbursement of the returned asset, the Rev David Ugolor who raised the alarm in a statement issued in Benin said the last time payment was made to the poor was June last year.
David Ugolor equally reminded both the federal government of Nigeria, and Switzerland Government of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by both countries at the maiden edition of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) summit held Washington DC in 2017 as well as the World Bank that witnessed the process and called on the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to follow through with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to ensure a complete operationalization of the MoU and conclusion of the cash transfer disbursement which before the stoppage of payment has been celebrated globally as a success story.
According to Ugolor, payment from the $322.5million has reached 76 per cent and from September 2020 to June 2021, no payment was made to the poor beneficiaries ostensibly due to change of leadership at the National Cash Transfer Office and system strengthening process” but wondered why up till now payment has not continued.
“The last major payment cycle was May/June 2021. Payment and reconciliation of accounts was completed in 24 States (Abia, Adamawa, Cross Rivers, FCT, Bayelsa, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Lagos, Plateau, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ebonyi, Sokoto, Taraba. Between July 2021 and December 2021, there was clearing of backlog owed beneficiaries in the previous year (2020) in Benue, Nasarawa, Ekiti, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara, Yobe and Rivers which were at different payment cycle,” Ugolor disclosed.
Ugolor stated that the monitors established that as at May/June 2021 a total number of 1, 632, 206 beneficiaries in 33 States excluding Edo, Enugu, Ondo and Kebbi were on the payment schedule list. A total of 812, 721 households were paid while total unpaid households stood at 819, 485.
Rev Ugolor further stated that total amount paid so far is N8, 528,950,000.00 billion representing 76 per cent of the returned loot while the balance yet to be disbursed is put at 2,329,020,000.00billion.
The ANEEJ helmsman further noted that 4 States had issues with their Payment Service Operators (PSPs) since their last payment in December 2019 which has been resolved but the poor in these states have not received any payment up till date (March 2022). According to Ugolor, these States include: Edo, Enugu, Ondo and Kebbi and called on the NCTO authorities to pay the poor in these states.
The Abacha loot disbursement is projected to achieve optimal disbursement by May/June 2022 payment cycle, but ANEEJ fears that this target will be missed if payments do not continue.