The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has accused former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of deceiving Nigerians over recovered Abacha loot, which the group said was improperly utilised under her watch and demanded that she apologises “to Nigerians for claiming recently that recovered Abacha loot was transparently spent while she knew that $322m (about N63billion) recovered Abacha funds were inappropriately released to finance the fight against Boko Haram.”
The allegation of SERAP is coming following Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s revelation that she released about $322m (N61billion) to the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, for military operations.
SERAP’s executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in a statement Thursday said that, “The truth about the spending of Abacha loot is now coming out, and it is clear that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala was wrong to accuse SERAP of bias while she knew that we are simply seeking truth, justice and accountability on the spending of recovered Abacha loot.
“Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s approach of ‘no answers, no apology’ on how Abacha loot was spent is doing her reputation more harm than good. We hope that she will take cue from the World Bank (her former employer) when it defined ‘accountability and probity’ as knowing what task has been set, accepting to do it, and going about it with a sense of probity. Probity implying the willingness to self-disclose such information to which a specific stakeholder group has a right as well as tolerance of the scrutiny of such a stakeholder group on information to which they have a right,” the organisation said.
The statement further said; “We therefore urge her to now come out for the sake of millions of Nigerians living in extreme poverty but also of generations as yet unborn and tell Nigerians the whole story about what exactly happened to recovered Abacha loot, as well as publicly apologise for claiming that Abacha loot was transparently spent. She should be willing to be held to account.”
In a letter, dated January 20, 2015, addressed to former President Goodluck Jonathan, it was revealed that $322m of Abacha loot was transferred following a January 12, 2015 request by the office of the former National Security Advise Sambo Dasuki for funds for the procurement of arms and ammunition as well as intelligence equipment.
The letter reads: “Please find a request by the National Security Adviser (NSA) for the transfer of $300 million and £5.5 million of the recovered Abacha funds to an ONSA [Office of the National Security Adviser] operations account. The NSA has explained that this is to enable the purchase of ammunition, security, and other intelligence equipment for the security agencies in order to enable them fully confront the ongoing Boko Haram threat. His request is sequel to the meeting you chaired with the committee on the use of recovered funds where the decision was made that recovered Abacha funds would be split 50-50 between urgent security needs to confront Boko Haram and development need (including a portion for the Future Generations window of the Sovereign Wealth Fund)”.