FG fails to account for $4b Abacha loot
By Ahmid Oluwole
The Federal Government is yet to account for about $4 billion recovered
from the late Head of State, Gen Sani Abacha, human rights lawyer, Mr
Femi Falana, (SAN) told an audience of anti-corruption crusaders in
Abuja on Wednesday.
The release was made available to Irohinodua.
He said since 1999, the Federal authority has recovered about $4 billion
of public funds stolen by Abacha, but that Nigerians are not aware of
how the fund was expended by the government. Close to a hundred
participants at the Abuja conference agreed that the lack of
accountability for stolen funds has raised credibility problems for
Nigeria in the comity of nations.
Falana spoke at the Anti-Corruption Situation Room (ACSR) conference
organized by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA
Resource Centre) which focused on Reviewing the Efforts of State and
Non-State Actors in the Fight Against Corruption in Nigeria.
The conference was attended by local and international representatives
and chaired by the Country Representative of the United Nations Office
of Drugs and Crime, (UNODC), Dr Oliver Stolpe. Speaking at the event,
the Representative of Mac Arthur Foundation, Mr Dayo Olaide said
fighting corruption remains a major step to lifting Nigeria’s standards
of living. The HEDA Chairman, Mr. Olarewaju Suraju, said his group will
continue to vigorously pursue anti-corruption campaign saying that
sleaze is not unconnected with violence in some parts of the country.
The participants emphasized transparency in public expenditure as a
necessary ingredient for economic growth and wealth creation. Falana
said it was lack of accountability by the Nigerian government that
prompted the cautionary insult of a US State Department official who
mocked Nigerian leaders asking them to ensure accountability in the
disbursement of the latest over $308 million warehoused in the Island of
Jersey but recently released to Nigeria.
“About $4 billion recovered Abacha loot is yet to be accounted for. One
young state house official told Buhari government officials that the
money must not be stolen. It is the most successful recovery of stolen
public funds in the world. We have not been able to account for the
money,” Falana said lamenting that a former President said he recovered
$2 billion dollars, in eight years, but when he was asked to account for
the funds after a court order, the former President said the “Judge was
The lawyer urged Nigeria to learn from post-war Rwanda whose President
Paul Kagame has been fighting corruption on the four pillars of culture,
responsibility, accountability and effectiveness. He said in spite of
the efforts of President Mohammadu Buhari, corruption remains a way of
life for many officials of governments in Nigeria.
He said Buhari listed fighting corruption as priority, but that the most
important is that the Buhari administration should enforce asset
declaration of public officers.
Falana said Nigerians have been battling public officials to make open
the assets declared noting that declaration is from the Latin word
declaro, which means to ‘declare open’ openly. He said the Code of
Conduct Bureau, (CCB) should be told the secrets surrounding asset
declaration in Nigeria is illegal.
Participants came from the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Nigerian
Labour Congress (NLC), the Murshid, Abuja National Mosque, Mac Arthur
Foundation, ActionAid Nigeria, ACORN-DFID, the Presidential Advisory
Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Transparency International, TI,
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), TUGAR, AFRICMIL and
PTCIJ, the National Assembly, NASS and many civil society groups gave
At the end of the conference in a communiqué participants condemned the
Western countries for offering warehouses for illicit funds.
They argued that some of the Western countries who raise anti-corruption
banners indeed are very corrupt in their bilateral and multilateral
economic policies. “These countries are responsible for stockpiling
stolen funds. They aid human trafficking, money laundering and
acquisition of illicit assets. The stigmatization of over 100 million
Nigerians should be rejected.” The participants condemned the subjective
narrative of corruption as defined by Western nations which fail to take
into consideration the collaboration of the international community,
institutions and companies.
An official of Transparency International, TI, Mr Anwal Musa Rafsanjani
said the TI report is not about corruption by the Nigerian government
but rather focuses on perception and the corruption trends in the
Participants noted that the Auditor General of the country reported that
several institutions have failed to submit Audited Report contrary to
The participants said the issue of combating corruption is not just
about what the government is doing, but also what the other stakeholders
in the democratic process are doing, the civil society, the media and at
the policy level both at the local and national levels. In this context,
non-state actors should intensify anti-corruption activities that are
inclusive of the Nigerians of all classes.
In its recommendations, the summit urged the Executive and the National
Assembly to ensure that the budget process is transparent.
Other recommendations were that the Federal Government and the civil
society should intensify efforts at tracing and recovery of stolen funds
and ensure effective monitoring of the disbursement of such funds by
It added further “Nigerians should lead Africa to dismiss the stigma
that Africans are a corrupt people when in reality corruption is not
culture-specific and that the biggest beneficiaries of corruption are
foreign countries who take delight in the warehousing of stolen funds.”
Other recommendations are that the media should be more pro-active as a
main stakeholder in the campaign against corruption.
“There is the need for accountability and transparency in the civil
society for effective anti-corruption drive. The passages of pending
anti-corruption laws are critical to the anti-corruption campaign as
much as the independence of the anti-corruption agencies and their
adequate funding” the communiqué noted
Participants argued that it is within the powers to Nigerians to bring
corruption to its knees and that it does not take decades to eradicate
corruption as a monumental vice for them to create wealth and prosperity
for the long suffering people of