Sylvester Idowu in Warri
A human rights activist, Comrade Sheriff Mulade has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to use the recovered $321m stashed in United State’s banks by the late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha to develop the neglected oil producing communities in the Niger Delta region.
Mulade, who is the National Coordinator of the Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice ( CEPEJ), a Niger Delta-based NGO, yesterday, in a statement, begged that the recovered loots should be channelled to the development of oil producing communities across the federation, especially core states like Delta, Bayelsa and River states.
The federal government had concluded arrangements for the repatriation of the funds from the United States along with €6.86m allegedly looted by former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, from Europe to Nigeria.
Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had told State House reporters last week after the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja that the recovered Abacha loots would fund major ongoing road projects, including the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano Road and the Second Niger Bridge.
However, Mulade pleaded that since the recovered monies were proceeds from oil exploration activities from the oil communities, particularly from Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa and River states during the period General Abacha was Head of State, such should be used to fund the neglected oil producing areas in the Niger Delta region.
“The funds should be majorly used for infrastructural and human capital development of the people and the region to give them sense of belonging. We should not repeat the same mistake a second time. Using the recovered funds for the construction of Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Expressway and Second Niger Bridge is a misplaced priority and an act of injustice to the oil producing communities and States,” he added.
The funds, the activist maintained, should be used mainly for the construction of projects that will create employment to reduce youth restiviness and engage the armed youths in areas such as Marine Fisheries/Aquacultural industries, Marine Forest Management Institutions and construction of roads and bridges linking towns and villages in the coastal communities of the region.
Comrade Mulade appealed to President Buhari to include Niger Delta Coastal oil bearing communities, where the funds in question, were majorly extracted from and should be the focus and target for the developmental strides of President Buhari.
He said further, “If the fund is used for the infrastructural and human capital development of the oil bearing communities, it will boost the marine economic growth and help alleviate poverty from the coastal communities.“
He also appealed to the President not to allocate or share the fund to any Developmental Agencies in the Niger Delta region rather the federal government should apply them directly to avoid corruption.