Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has revealed that from documents in its possession from the World Bank, recovered Abacha’s loot was spent on roads, electricity, education, health and water.
Adetokunbo Mumuni, Executive Director of SERAP, in a statement dated 29 November, 2015 stressed that SERAP received the documents from World Bank last week and from the contents of the said documents, the $500 million recovered from Abacha during Obasanjo’s presidency was allegedly used for infrastructural developments in Nigeria.
“SERAP can confirm that last week we received several documents from Ann May of the Access to Information Team of the World Bank, following our Access to Information Request to the Bank. We also received a letter dated 24 November 2015 from Mr Rachid Benmessaoud, Director of the World Bank in Africa.
“In total, SERAP has received over 700 pages of documents, which we are now closely studying and scrutinising with a view to discovering whether the documents contain details that Nigerians would like to see and whether the information corresponds to the facts on the ground. After this analysis, we will respond to the Bank and consider our options, including filing an appeal before the Bank’s Access to Information Appeals Board and taking other appropriate legal actions nationally and internationally to discover what exactly happened to Abacha recovered loot,” the organisation said.
The crux of the document centres around the $500 million received from Switzerland during ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime which SERAP quoted Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the then Minister of Finance as saying through a letter to the World bank in 2005, that it was built into the budget for infrastructural development in the six geo-political zones of the country.
“In the meantime, our preliminary review of some of the documents and the letter from Mr Rachid Benmessaoud have revealed certain facts which raise more questions about what exactly happened to Abacha loot: First, that Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Minister of Finance in a letter dated 9 January 2005 explained to the Bank that around $500m (N65bn) of Abacha loot received from Switzerland was programmed into and spent in the 2004 and 2005 budgets on roads, electricity, education, water and health across all 6 geo-political zones of Nigeria.”
“Second, Mrs Iweala explained to the Bank that N18.60billion was spent on roads; N10.83billion spent on health; N7billion spent on education; N6.20billion spent on water; and N21.70billion spent on electricity.
She also said that part of the funds were spent on new and ongoing investment projects. Mrs Iweala said that relevant federal ministries have the full details on the spending of repatriated Abacha loot. The Bank noted that there was no funds monitoring and tracking mechanism in place to trace the spending of Abacha loot,” SERAP insisted.
“Third, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud confirmed that the World Bank played a monitoring role in a return of assets by Switzerland but that the Bank is not currently involved in the monitoring of spending of Abacha loot that have been returned to Nigeria in recent years. He said that the Bank would be prepared to set up a mechanism to monitor the use of Abacha loot if the
Nigerian government request the Bank’s assistance in this respect.”
“Given Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s involvement in the spending of Abacha loot, SERAP calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently probe the role of the Ministry of Finance and relevant federal ministries at the time in the spending of Abacha loot particularly given the strong allegations of mismanagement that characterised the use of the funds,” the organisation said.
“Although Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said that Abacha loot was spent in the 2004 and 2005 budgets on roads, electricity, education, water and health across all 6 geo-political zones of Nigeria, there is no evidence of such projects as millions of Nigerians continue to travel on dead roads, while they continue to lack access to adequate electricity supply, water, health and quality education. Therefore, President Buhari can no longer continue to remain silent on this issue of public interest if Nigerians are to continue to trust him in his fight against corruption,” SERAP maintained.
In response to SERAP’s request, the World Bank through a letter dated 15 October 2015 and signed by Ann May of the Access to Information Team, stated that “In response to your request under AI3982, we would like to inform you that we are still considering your request and need additional time to provide you with a more comprehensive response.”
SERAP had on 21 September 2015 sent an access to information request to Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group urging him to “exercise the Bank’s prerogative to release documents relating to spending of recovered assets stolen by Late General Sani Abacha”.
The group also asked Mr Yong Kim to “disclose information about the Bank’s role in the implementation of any projects funded by the recovered assets and any other on-going repatriation initiatives on Nigeria with which the Bank is engaged.”

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