YENAGOA/BENIN-CITY. July 9, 2020… Civil Society Organisations working on the platform of Monitoring Transparency and Accountability in the Return of Assets (MANTRA) project has called on the Governments of the United States of America to return the Nine hundred thousand Dollars ($900,000) seized from former governor of Bayelsa State, the Late Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha to the people of Bayelsa State.
Executive Director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and Head of MANTRA CSOs, Rev David Ugolor and Secretary of Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organisations Forum (BANGOF) Comrade Keme Opia, in a statement issued today said the return of the assets to Bayelsa to attend to primary healthcare needs of the poor in the state have become more imperative now with increasing spread of COVID-19 in the country.
“We encourage the Nigerian and US governments to speed up the process for the restitution of the $900,000 recovered funds from former Bayelsa State Governor, Late Diepriye Alamiyeseigha back to the victims of corruption, which are the people of Bayelsa State as enshrined in the UNCAC and Global Forum on Asset Recovery, GFAR principles,” says the Rev David Ugolor.
Relying on GFAR principles 3 Rev David Ugolor stated that MANTRA CSOs are strongly desirous of commencement of effective dialogue between the US and Nigeria at the earliest opportunity in the process, and for there to be continuing dialogue throughout the process;
“We want to the extent appropriate and permitted by law, individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations, should be encouraged to participate in the Alamiyeseigha asset return process, including by helping to identify how harm can be remedied, contributing to decisions on return and disposition, and fostering transparency and accountability in the transfer, disposition and administration of recovered asset as provided by Principle 10 of GFAR, Ugolor said.
“We appreciate the efforts made by the US and Nigerian Governments thus far in tracing and tracking the $900,000 asset looted by our former Governor and we are happy that efforts are on for the repatriation. We have had stakeholder meetings in Yenagoa where we decided that the money be spent on primary health facilities in the state as opposed to the building of Judges quarters as earlier proposed by our immediate past government. But since then there hasn’t been any update on the return of the loot from both our National Government and the US Government,” adds Secretary-General of BANGOF, Comrade Keme Opia.
“Ours in BANGOF is an appeal to the US Government. With the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria and Bayelsa in particular, we feel a more compelling need for the repatriation of the $900,000 loot to enable our government strengthen our health systems, particularly at the grassroots level which are currently in dire need of support. This will enable the poor and most vulnerable citizens amongst us access basic health needs,” Mr Opia submitted.