*Promise independent monitoring
By Kasim Sumaina
A group, under the aegis of the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), and all its partners on the Monitoring Transparency and Accountability in the Management of Returned Assets (MANTRA) have welcomed the successful repatriation of $311,797,866 of the Abacha Loot to Nigeria.
ANEEJ, being supported by DFID Nigeria under its Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (ACORN) programme made this known on Tuesday through a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, Mr. David Ugolor, in a swift reaction to the return of the Abacha III Loot from the US as announced by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, stated that Civil Society Organisations (CSO) working under the aegis of MANTRA, had been collaboratively working with government stakeholders to support the needs of the Nigerian people.
He said that the MANTRA project had gained global recognition through its successful monitoring of $322.5 Abacha 2 loot returned from Switzerland.
Ugolor stressed that the group would not relent until the aim of repatriating all the looted funds was achieved.
According to him, “We will carry out an end- to -end independent monitoring of the use of the returned loot earmarked for infrastructural project as agreed by the UK, US, Island of Jersey and the Nigerian governments during the negotiation processes.”
ANEEJ helmsman assured that the MANTRA project will seek to collaborate with the ministry of justice, complementing other monitoring arrangements, promoting a national effort.
He said, “The MANTRA project has already carried out existing working collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Justice and other key government agencies demonstrating the success of state/non-state working together in the spirit of Open Government Partnership.
“It is our expectation that this good working in the interest of the Nigerian people will continue.”
Similarly, the Executive Director, FAHIMTA Women and Youth Development Initiative (FAWOYDI), Bauchi and North East Coordinator of MANTRA, Hajia Maryam Garba, said, “Protecting money repatriated to Nigeria is an ongoing challenge. It is also critical to Nigeria’s development. Many lessons have been learnt during the process of monitoring the Abacha 2 loot, recently shared with the public in the one-year report issued to the public.”
On his part, the Executive Director of CIRRDOG Enugu, Engr. Raph Ndigwe, said, “the MANTRA project intends to extend its coverage to the Abacha III loot to ensure the same level of transparency and accountability.
“The legal fireworks for the recovery of the assets started since 2014, but discussions with the repatriating governments of UK, US and Jersey commenced since 2019.
“The MANTRA project intends to play an active role in the monitoring of Abacha III Loot, destined for some key infrastructural projects—Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano Road and the Second Niger Bridge amongst others.”