President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

Why Buhari should ensure recovered $700m James Ibori’s loot is not re-stolen ─SERAP

*The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has requested President Muhammadu Buhari to disclose spending details of the $700 million former Delta State Governor James Ibori looted funds the Federal Government has reportedly recovered in the past four years

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In order to ensure probity and accountability in the public expenditure of recovered stolen funds from the taxpayers’ money in the country, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to disclose spending details of the $700 million Ibori’s looted funds apparently recovered by the Federal Government in the past four years.

Kolawole Oluwadare, Deputy Director of SERAP, who stated this in the organisation’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request dated 22 May, 2021, noted this includes the list and location of projects completed with the recovered former Delta State Governor James Ibori’s looted funds as well as details of the contractors that executed the projects in the country.

SERAP particularly asked President Buhari to ensure that recovered monies are not re-stolen at the expense of the poor and vulnerable Nigerians.

Earlier, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Honourable Minister for of Justice, recently disclosed the Federal Government had recovered over $700m looted funds.

Malami announced the return of £4.2million linked to James Ibori, and the government plan to repatriate more than £80million of the former governor’s loot while in office.

The group also urged the President to “urgently direct Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to disclose spending details of the $700 million looted funds reportedly recovered by the Federal Government in the past four years, including the list and location of projects completed with the money, as well as details of the contractors that executed the projects.”

The groups further urged him to “direct Mrs. Ahmed to disclose how the government plans to spend the returned £4.2m Ibori loot, including details of planned capital expenditure, and whether there is any plan to ensure that the money and any future returned Ibori loot would be spent to achieve justice and effective remedies for victims of corruption in Delta State.”

It said: “Disclosing spending details of the recovered $700m loot, and spending plans for the £4.2m Ibori loot would promote transparency, accountability, and be entirely consistent with your constitutional oath of office to ensure the well-being of Nigerians.”

“Rather than borrowing another N2.3trillion ($6.18bn) external loan, SERAP urges you to ensure a transparent and accountable use of recovered loot to fund the 2021 budget, improve the country’s economy, and address widespread poverty.

“This would promote a just and honest government, and ensure that recovered loot is not re-stolen at the expense of the poor.”

According to the group’s request, “SERAP, therefore, urges you to withdraw your latest request seeking the approval of the National Assembly to borrow another $6.1billion in the public interests, and to ensure accountable fiscal stewardship of Nigeria’s money for both current and future generations.”

The organisation stated: “Providing the information and widely publishing the details would also enhance your government’s authority and credibility to demand the return of more looted public funds from abroad, as well as facilitate the repatriation of potentially billions of Dollars still stashed in rich countries.”

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