CEM REPORT | The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has written a letter to the President, Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to publish the agreement the federal government recently signed with the United States of America for the repatriation of Abacha loot – $23 million.
SERAP stated that providing it with a copy of the agreement and publishing the agreement would allow Nigerians to scrutinise and monitor the spending of the repatriated loot to ensure that the money was not mismanaged or stolen.
SERAP in the letter dated August 27, 2022, and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said by the combined reading of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations, there are transparency obligations imposed on the government to widely publish the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot.
The letter read in part: “Your government has a responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in how any repatriated stolen funds are spent, to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.
“SERAP also urges you to provide details of the transparency and accountability mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure that the repatriated funds are not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“Publishing a copy of the agreement signed with the US would also promote transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds. Nigerians are entitled to their constitutionally and internationally recognised human right to information.”