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Okonjo-Iweala needs to be probed over Abacha loot, SERAP tells Buhari

Okonjo-Iweala needs to be probed over Abacha loot SERAP tells Buhari
A group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has called for a probe of the Ministry of Finance covering the period during which it was headed by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.



The group said the probe became important in view of the information given to the World Bank by Okonjo-Iweala on how the repatriated loot from the late military ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha, was spent.

In a statement on Sunday by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP said it had received a 700-page document from the World Bank, wherein Okonjo-Iweala was quoted to have said that the repatriated Abacha loot was spent on roads, electricity, education, health and water between 2004 and 2005 across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

According to SERAP, Okonjo-Iweala told the World Bank in a letter dated January 9, 2005 that N65bn of the Abacha loot was repatriated from Switzerland out of which N10.83bn was spent on health; N7bn on education; N6.2bn on water; and N21.7bn on electricity.

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The ex-minister was said to have added that part of the funds was spent on new and ongoing investment projects and that relevant government ministries had the details of the spending.

But SERAP, which claimed that ‘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,’ said Buhari must probe Okonjo-Iweala’s involvement in the spending of the repatriated Abacha loot.

SERAP said the disclosure by the World Bank was in response to an information request it made to the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, on September 21, 2015.

According to the group, apart from the 700-page document it received from Ann May of the World Bank Access to Information Team, it also received a letter dated November 24, 2015 from the Director of the World Bank in Africa, Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud.

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The group said it is still studying the documents to see if they contain information that Nigerians would like to know.

It said, “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 the Abacha loot.

“First, that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Minister of Finance in a letter dated January 9, 2005 explained to the bank that about $500m (N65bn) of the 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 the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.”

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