Coalition Signs MoU with World Bank, FG on $321m Abacha Loot

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Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

A coalition of concerned civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have appealed to the Federal Government not to allow unscrupulous and corrupt politicians divert the $321 million Abacha loot released by Swiss government for personal use.

The coalition comprising New Initiative for Social Development (NISD) and Africa Network for Economic and Environmental Justice(ANEEJ) said President Muhammadu Buhari must live up to the expectations of the agreement reached with the Swiss Bank that all recovered loots will be deployed to finance the welfare of poor Nigerians.

At a news conference in Ado Ekiti yesterday, the NISD Executive
Director , Mr. Abiodun Oyeleye, said the CSOs “have entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the world and
Swiss Banks and the FG to monitor how the Cash transfer programme to poor Nigerians in the Southwest States of Ekiti, Oyo and Osun is prosecuted .

Oyeleye revealed that in compliance with the agreement reached with the Swiss Government that the money will be used to cater for the poor, which he said facilitated the release of the looted funds that the three states were listed in the region to benefit in the first tranche of the scheme.

He said the monitoring mechanism became expedient to ensure that only the poor Nigerians are captured in the data already prepared by the world bank and not those that have alliances with politicians and political parties.

The NISD boss added that ANEEJ is presently implementing the
monitoring of received assets in Nigeria through Transparency and Accountability projected tagged MANTRA, which is being supported by the British Department for International Development (DFID).

He stated that the Swiss and British Government had released a sum of $394 million looted funds to Nigeria in recent under the guise that the monies would be used to cater for poor Nigerians, saying proper monitoring by apolitical bodies like his organization will ensure strict compliance to agreements.

Oyeleye said: “The essence of the MANTRA programme to be undertaken by ANEEJ and NISD , is to ensure that the cash transfer to get to the direct beneficiaries in Ekiti, Osun and Oyo States in Southwest.

“We are also to create awareness across all the State, so that they can key into the programme. We are to ensure accountability and transparency in the disbursement of the fund. We must ensure that it is not politicized or diverted or seen as a national cake that can be misused by powerful people.

“Available statistics by the World Bank revealed that over 75 percent of Nigerians are extremely poor. Only 20 percent are of the middle class and five percent are super rich.

“It was the intention to lessen poverty and bridge the wide gap
between the rich and poor that made the Swiss government to release the looted funds and we must not betray that trust.

“The data of each state were already compiled, the beneficiaries are known and our task is to ensure that those who don’t have any means of livelihood benefit and they must be productive members of a family to develop economic activities like business that can sustain their people.

“Ours is to deploy monitors to all the towns and villages and
interact with these people and we are going to establish a feedback mechanism for beneficiaries and citizens on the implementation of the programme in the three states.”