Samuel Bello, Abuja
Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and all its partners on Monitoring Transparency and Accountability in the Management of Returned Assets (MANTRA) project being supported by DFID Nigeria under its Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (ACORN) programme have welcomed the successful repatriation of $311,797,866 of the Abacha III loot to Nigeria.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, David Ugolor in his reaction to the return of the loot from the US, said Civil Society Organisations working under the aegis of MANTRA will carry out 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.
“The MANTRA project has gained global recognition through its successful monitoring of $322.5 Abacha 2 loot returned from Switzerland. Key to its success has been collaborative working with government stakeholders to support the needs of the Nigerian people,” Ugolor said.
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, 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.”
ANEEJ helmsman, David Ugolor assured that “the MANTRA project will seek to collaborate with the ministry of justice, complementing other monitoring arrangements, promoting a national effort. 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.”