The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.), to “instruct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to provide a copy of the agreement the federal government recently signed with the United States for the repatriation of $23 million stolen by the late General Sani Abacha.”
The United States government last week signed an agreement with the federal government to repatriate $23 million of Abacha loot to Nigeria.
In a letter dated August 27, 2022 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “By the 1999 Combined Reading of the Nigerian Constitution [as amended]the Freedom of Information Act and the country’s international obligations, transparency obligations have been imposed on your government to widely publicize the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot.”
SERAP said: “By providing us with a copy of the agreement with the US and publishing the agreement, Nigerians could investigate it and control the expenditure of the $23 million repatriated Abacha loot to ensure that the money is not mismanaged, diverted or stolen.”
SERAP expressed concern that the $23 million repatriated Abacha loot is vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. A substantial portion of the estimated $5 billion Abacha loot returned since 1999 may have been diverted, re-stolen, or mismanaged, and in any case remains missing.”
The letter read in part: “Nigeria’s Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s anti-corruption and human rights obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information about their government’s activities.”
“Your government has a responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability over the spending of repatriated stolen funds, to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.”
“SERAP also urges you to provide details on the transparency and accountability mechanisms in place to ensure that the repatriated funds are not mismanaged, diverted or stolen again.”
“We would therefore appreciate if the recommended actions are taken within seven days of receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP will take all appropriate legal action to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”
“Publishing a copy of the agreement signed with the US would also promote transparency and accountability in the use of public funds. Nigerians are entitled to their constitutionally and internationally recognized human right to information.”
“Publishing a copy of the agreement would ensure that those with public responsibilities are accountable to the people for the performance of their duties, including the management of repatriated loot.”
“The Freedom of Information Act, Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee everyone the right to information, including a copy of the agreement on the repatriated $23 million Abacha loot.”
“According to our information, the US government recently signed an agreement with the federal government to repatriate $23 million of Abacha loot to Nigeria.”
“The agreement was signed by Mr Abubakar Malami on behalf of your government. This repatriation brings the total amount of funds repatriated by the US in the Abacha case to more than $334.7 million.”
The letter has been copied to Mr Abubakar Malami.