5 July 2018

Nigeria: Reps Probe Abacha Loot Spending Since 1998

Photo: Vanguard
Abacha's loot.

The House of Representatives has resolved to probe the recovered funds alleged to have been stolen by late Head of State, Sani Abacha.

The House said the recovery period to be covered is from 1998 to date.

The investigation would affect four democratically elected presidents namely, Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Musa Yar'adua, Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari as well as former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar.

The House said it would constitute an ad-hoc panel to investigate how much was recovered between 1998 to date, unravel the procedures used, and ascertain the agreements entered and whether they were in line with the law.

The lawmakers, while adopting a motion by Sunday Karimi (PDP, Kogi) said the sum of $322 million to be released to Nigeria by the Swiss Government should be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation and be distributed to the federating units using the current sharing formula.

They said the Executive arm should come up with a supplementary appropriation bill, earmarking the funds due to it from the Abacha loot for the completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.

Karimi told his colleagues that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami recently signed an agreement on behalf of the Nigerian Government for the release of the $322m, which is the last tranche of the Abacha loot.

He said the signing of the agreement was followed by an announcement by the Special Adviser to the President on Justice Reforms, Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu that based on the MU, the $322m would be paid directly to the accounts of poorest Nigerians "without recourse to the National Assembly."

However, he said, by virtue of Section 12 (1) of the Constitution, no treaty between the Federal Government and any country shall have the force of the law except with the approval of the National Assembly.

Thus, he said, the government's plan to pay the money directly to poor Nigerians did not have the approval of the legislature; hence it is a constitutional breach.

He therefore prayed the House to ask the Executive arm to ensure the payment of the money into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC, Kano) while contributing to the debate, sought an amendment that an ad-hoc panel be constituted to investigate the matter from 1998. His amendment was adopted.

The lawmakers unanimously adopted the motion when Speaker Yakubu Dogara put it to voice vote.

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