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imageSOCIO-ECONOMIC Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has “received several documents from the World Bank totalling over 700 pages on information on the spending of recovered assets stolen by the late General Abacha, with some of the documents suggesting that Abacha loot was spent on roads, electricity, education, health and water.”
This information was disclosed by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in a statement dated November 29, 2015.
The organisation said, “SERAP can confirm that last week we received several documents from Ann May of the Access to Information Team of the World Bank following our Access to Information Request to the bank. We also received a letter dated November 24, 2015 from Mr Rachid Benmessaoud, Director of the World Bank in Africa.
“In total, SERAP has received over 700 pages of documents, which we are now closely studying and scrutinising with a view to discovering whether the documents contain details that Nigerians would like to see and whether the information corresponds to the facts on the ground. After this analysis, we will respond to the bank and consider our options, including filing an appeal before the bank’s Access to Information Appeals Board and taking other appropriate legal actions nationally and internationally to discover what exactly happened to Abacha recovered loot,” the organisation said.
The organisation said that “In the meantime, our preliminary review of some of the documents and the letter from Mr Rachid Benmessaoud have revealed certain facts which raise more questions about what exactly happened to Abacha loot: First, that Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as Minister of Finance, in a letter dated January 9, 2005, explained to the bank that around $500million (N65 billion) of Abacha loot received from Switzerland was programmed into and spent in the 2004 and 2005 budgets on roads, electricity, education, water and health across all the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.
“Second, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala explained to the bank that N18.60billion was spent on roads; N10.83billion spent on health; N7billion spent on education; N6.20billion spent on water; and N21.70billion spent on electricity. She also said that part of the funds was spent on new and ongoing investment projects. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said that relevant federal ministries have the full details on the spending of repatriated Abacha loot. The bank noted that there was no funds monitoring and tracking mechanism in place to trace the spending of Abacha loot,” the organisation also disclosed.
“Thirdly, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud confirmed that the World Bank played a monitoring role in a return of assets by Switzerland but that the bank is not currently involved in the monitoring of spending of Abacha loot that has been returned to Nigeria in recent years. He said that the bank would be prepared to set up a mechanism to monitor the use of Abacha loot if the Nigerian government request the bank’s assistance in this respect.
“Given Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s involvement in the spending of Abacha loot, SERAP calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently probe the role of the Ministry of Finance and relevant federal ministries at the time in the spending of Abacha loot particularly given the strong allegations of mismanagement that characterised the use of the funds,” the organisation said.
“Although Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said that Abacha loot was spent in the 2004 and 2005 budgets on roads, electricity, education, water and health across all six geo-political zones of Nigeria, there is no evidence of such projects as millions of Nigerians continue to travel on dead roads, while they continue to lack access to adequate electricity supply, water, health and quality education. Therefore, President Buhari can no longer continue to remain silent on this issue of public interest if Nigerians are to continue to trust him in his fight against corruption,” the organisation also said.
It will be recalled that in a letter dated October 15, 2015 and signed by Ann May of the Access to Information Team, the World Bank said that “In response to your request under AI3982, we would like to inform you that we are still considering your request and need additional time to provide you with a more comprehensive response.”

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