Garuba Shehu’s Statement on $311.7m Abacha III Loot Calls for Greater Inter-Agency Collaboration—ANEEJ
BENIN CITY, NIGERIA. May 6, 2020…. The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, a Non-Governmental Organisation based in Benin City, Edo State has urged aides of President Muhamadu Buhari to foster greater inter-agency collaboration to bring about consistency in data and information which goes out to members of the public.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor in a reaction to a statement credited to Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu titled “Statement on the return of Abacha Stolen Millions From United States and Jersey” released on 4 May, 2020 said the statement needs to be further clarified in the interest of the Nigerian public.
“First, Garba Shehu in the statement said part of the returned $311.7million Abacha III Loot will also be invested in the Mambilla Power Project which when completed will provide electricity for 3 million Nigerians. It is important to clarify that the agreement between the Nigerian, Jersey and US governments did not capture this project. The agreement captured only three projects namely: The Lagos-Ibadan Express Road, the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Express Road and the Second Niger Bridge. Also, Garba Shehu statement did not acknowledge the role of the Jersey Government who also signed the agreement for the return of the loot.
“Secondly, the returned Abacha II Loot from Switzerland is not $320million as contained in the statement but $322.5million which represents $321million of the loot and $1.5million interest that accrued before its return amounting to a total of $322.5million that was lodged in a dedicated account in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“Thirdly, the returned $322.5million is not being spent on School Feeding Programme as contained in the statement of Garba Shehu, rather it is being spent on the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, one of the four components of the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme (SIP) in line with the agreement entered into between the Nigerian and Swiss Governments in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by both governments during the inaugural Global Forum on Asset Recovery, GFAR, in Washington DC 6-7 December 2017.” Ugolor explained
Ugolor further stated that ANEEJ wants Presidential aides to always compare notes with other government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) working on the same issues to ensure consistency in all government public statement before they are released to members of the public.
He said the clarification became necessary because of a similar situation that played out between the National Assembly and the Honourable Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development when the minister was quoted as saying that the funds being disbursed for January -April under the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme was from the World Bank whereas the arrangement on ground for the CCT is 80 per cent returned Abacha 2 Loot of $322.5million and 20 per cent World Bank IDA funds. This clarity, Ugolor said, was necessary to show the results of anti-corruption efforts of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“It is important to show results being achieved from the fight against corruption and this has to be done by all stakeholders collaboratively. Recovered assets are being channeled to address poverty and infrastructural development. But our message must be coherent and devoid of ambiguity,” Ugolor advised.
Government agencies, Ugolor said must eschew differences and work collaboratively to address the development challenges facing the nation. “We cannot work in silos and no government agency can do it alone,” ANEEJ helmsman asserted.
It will be recalled that ANEEJ alongside its partners drawn from the six geo-political zones recently released a one- year field monitoring report of the returned $322.5 being used for the Conditional Cash Transfer programme. ANEEJ has equally announced its readiness to independently monitor the returned $311.7million Abacha III from the US and New Jersey earmarked for major infrastructural projects in line with the agreements of the trio.