World Bank: We Did Not Audit Abacha’s Loot

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The World Bank has said it played a limited role in the spending of loots recovered from late General Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s military head of state from 1993 to 1998.

The bank, according to TheCable, stated that it could not comprehensively audit how it was spent, due to the structure of the programme adopted by the government at the time.

In a letter to Socio-Economic Rights and Accoundtability Project (SERAP), the World Bank said the recovered loots were channelled into Nigeria’s budget in line with President Olusegun Obasanjo’s National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS).

“The funds were returned directly from Switzerland to the Nigerian government adding that it is committed to helping Nigeria account for the spending of the loots.”

“They were programmed into the national budget and utilised by the Nigerian government in line with its National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS),” World Bank said.

The Bretton Wood institution added that the structure of the programme did not allow for the comprehensive audits like the bank would normally do with its own funded projects.

“As agreed with the Nigerian and Swiss Governments, the bank’s role was limited to carrying out an ex-post analysis on their use with a particular focus on their contribution to the NEEDS.

“This was done as part of the public expenditure review carried out jointly by Nigerian government and the bank under the Country Partnership Strategy. The monitoring and analysis of repatriated funds was undertaken at two levels through: (1) the bank-led analysis of general budget expenditure trends, and (2) a budget monitoring survey which was a limited field survey of sample projects funded under the budget program and randomly selected from a list of projects provided by the government.

“The budget monitoring survey was conducted by joint teams representing both government agencies and Nigerian civil society organisations. The bank’s role in this particular case was limited by the design and different from the type of comprehensive audits we can do when funds are spent in projects supported by the bank. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to explain the bank’s role in this matter in the near future.

“We do share your deep commitment to fighting corruption and promoting transparency and accountability. These are key ingredients to successful development and economic well-being.

“We believe that the work organisations like SERAP are doing is critical to achieve our common goal of improving the lives of people in Nigeria and beyond,” it stated.