The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given the federal government a 7-day ultimatum to disclose the exact amount of public funds stolen by the former military Head of State, Sani Abacha.
The ultimatum was given in a statement signed by the group’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, on Sunday.
The group further asked the federal government to give details of how the $5 billion recovered loot since the return of democracy in 1999 was spent.
“Disclose details of projects executed with the Abacha loot and their locations, details of companies and contractors involved in the execution of any such projects, details of all the agreements on the loot, the roles played by the World Bank and other actors, as well as the implementation status of all projects since 1999,” the statement read.
“Publishing the details of projects on which Abacha loot has been spent would allow the public to know the specific projects carried and the areas of the country in which the projects have been implemented as well as the officials that may be responsible for any alleged diversion or mismanagement of the loot.
“Getting to the root of the exact amount of the Abacha loot and how the returned funds have been spent is important for the success of the government’s fight against grand corruption and would reassure Nigerians that the government is truly committed to ensuring full accountability for the alleged corruption and mismanagement in the spending of the funds.
“Any failure or refusal to provide the information requested will be clearly inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the FoI Act. The accountability of government to the general public is a hallmark of modern democratic governance, a norm of human rights and a tool to curb corruption.
“If we have not heard from you within 7 days as stated, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the FoI Act to compel you to comply with our request. Access to the details sought would allow Nigerians an opportunity to assess the impacts of any projects carried out with the funds.”
SERAP sent two Freedom of Information requests to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abukabar Malami, SAN.
In the request, SERAP stated: “We are concerned that substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been diverted, re-stolen or mismanaged, and in any case remain unaccounted for.”