Abacha loot: why Buhari must apologise to Nigerians – Falana

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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana and the Chairman, Human Environment Development Agenda, Olanrewaju Suraju on Wednesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to apologise to Nigerians for saying in the past that the former Head of State, Late General Sani Abacha did not loot the country.

They stated that with facts available and also given that Buhari’s administration has recovered part of the Abacha loot, it was necessary for Buhari to apologise to Nigerians for his statement.

They spoke during HEDA’s conference on “Agenda setting for citizens’ interaction with stolen assets recovery: Abacha loot recovery and utilization as a  case study,” in Abuja.

Falana lamented the looting and alleged mismanagement of huge sums of money belonging to Nigeria, adding that if the monies were recovered, there would be no need for Nigeria to borrow money from abroad.

He stated that western countries, including their banks that colluded with some Nigerians to loot the country, should be made to pay for their unlawful action.

Falana said, “Buhari should apologise to the country. Before he assumed power, he had said that the late Gen Sani Abacha never looted the wealth of the country. Now that it has been confirmed, now that his own administration has recovered part of the loot, it is only normal for the president to apologise that he has made a mistake.

“The government also is politically weak to take on this contest because at the end of the day, they also take some aids from these countries, so it is difficult for the government to go after them. That is where civil society organisations come in. That is where the Nigerian people who are the victims of corruption need to come in to insist that any country that has colluded with dictators and their friends to loot the treasure of the country be made to account for it.”

He added, “We need to have an account of the money recovered so far. It is not only Gen Abacha, there are other recoveries that are being done. We must expand our search. We can not be limited to 1993. Between 1988 and 1992, two dedicated accounts opened in Central Bank recorded $12.4bn at the end of the tenure of Gen Ibrahim, $2.2bn could not be accounted for. And that is the finding of Pius Okigbo panel instituted by the Sani Abacha junta. We need to also investigate that.

“I also know a case of $7bn withdrawn from our foreign reserves in 2006. The money was distributed to 14 banks, we have written to the Central Bank repeatedly, and it has been totally silent. Happily, the presidential panel on recovery of Public Property is looking into that. So we must recover the entire looted wealth.

“Last week, I filed an action at the Federal High Court, Abuja seeking to compel the Buhari administration to recover $40bn and N481bn which a government auditing agency, NEITTI confirmed. And this huge fund has not been remitted to the Federation Account.”

Suraju alleged that over $500m recovered from the Abacha loot was re-looted.
He also said Nigerians must insist that former Heads of State and Presidents should be investigated and if found to have looted public fund should be made to repay such looted funds.

He said, “I was expecting that by now with the facts that money was recovered under President Muhammadu, he needs to explain beyond mere apologies how he came about his initial conclusions.

“Anybody could have been naïve to the extent of what happened but it is expected of a statesman that after discovering that he misjudged the situation. (He) is expected to come to Nigerians to really apologise and reaffirm what is the state of affairs.

“We need to beam searchlight on other former presidents. I can tell you that it is not impossible that some of the former Heads of State may have also looted more than Abacha did but because there has been that sense of solidarity and camaraderie between them, it has been a challenge going after former presidents.” – Punch

– July 3, 2018 @ 17:49 GMT |

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