Abacha loot: SERAP blows hot over plans to share recovered fund

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has said the plan by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to share the $350million loot recovered from former military ruler, late Gen. Sani Abacha among estimated 300,000 households living in poverty is mis-targeted and would not bring any tangible benefits to the beneficiaries.

SERAP, in a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, said rather than spending the loot to fund the National Social Safety Net Program (NAASP), President Buhari should, within the framework of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), create a central recovery account/trust funds, with oversight mechanisms to ensure repatriated funds are transparently and accountably spent to invest in tangible projects that would improve access of those living in poverty to essential public services such as water, education and health.

The group insisted that distributing N5,000 to household would neither improve the socio-economic conditions of beneficiaries nor achieve the enduring value of a more transparent and robust system to manage recovered loot.

SERAP noted: “The return of the Abacha loot is a chance for President Buhari to commit to the enforcement of the 2016 judgment by Justice Mohammed Idris, which ordered his government to publicly disclose the spending of recovered loot since 1999 by past and present governments till date, as well as details of projects on which the funds were spent; and to vigorously push the National Assembly to pass the Proceeds of Crime Bill.

“Buhari should make these happen before the next general elections if he is to truly demonstrate his oft-repeated commitment to fight grand corruption.

“Spending returned looted funds offers an opportunity to right wrongs committed by corrupt officials, rebuild public trust, and invest in the development of communities most affected by grand corruption in the country to improve the prospects for meeting many of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“It is important for the authorities to ameliorate the plight of communities that have borne the brunt of years of grand corruption by providing genuine opportunities for the socially and economically vulnerable sectors for personal development, and access to essential services as well as promoting the rule of law particularly by enforcing the judgment by Justice Idris.”

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