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Ibori Loot: Abacha Loot Was For Same Project, SERAP Tells Presidency

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Chief James Ibori

A group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects, SERAP, has called out the Presidency for stating that it will use the recovered £4.2m James Ibori loot for the construction of Lagos—Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge.

According to SERAP, it said that the Nigerian Governors informed the group in 2020 that it will use the recovered Abacha loot of $600m to build the same projects.

It asked for verification and urged the governors to ‘publish details of the planned spending of the £4.2m on Lagos—Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge.’

In response to our FoI, Nigeria Governors had in March 2020 told SERAP that the $322m Abacha loot recovered from Switzerland and the $308m recovered from the Island of Jersey would be “used for the construction of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; Abuja-Kano Expressway and Second Niger Bridge.”

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However, following the signing of an MoU today to return £4.2m assets stolen by former Delta State Governor, James Ibori to Nigeria, Nigeria Governors again stated that it would use the money to “construct the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and Lagos-Ibadan Express road.”

SERAP, therefore, calls on Nigeria Governors to urgently clarify how much of the Abacha recovered loot from Switzerland and the Island of Jersey has been spent on Lagos—Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge, and to provide details of the outstanding work on the two projects.

We also urge Nigeria Governors to urgently publish details of the planned spending of the £4.2m on Lagos—Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge, and whether there is any money remaining from the Abacha loot reportedly spent on the same projects.

Explaining exactly the total budget for Lagos—Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge, and whether the Abacha loot earlier earmarked for the same projects is not enough to complete them would ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the Ibori loot.

SERAP has consistently called for transparency and accountability in the spending of recovered stolen public assets. We will be issuing a Freedom of Information request to seek details on the status of spending of Abacha loot on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration reportedly recovered over $2bn of Abacha loot. He stated in his book titled ‘My Watch’ that: “by the time I left office in May 2007, over $2bn and £100m had been recovered from abroad; and N10bn in cash and properties locally.”

Similarly, former President Goodluck Jonathan administration reportedly recovered $226.3m and €7.5m from Liechtenstein. Some £22.5m was also recovered from the Island of Jersey while $322m and £5.5m from the Abacha loot were reportedly returned to the government.

The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has also reportedly recovered several millions of dollars of Abacha loot since assuming office in May 2015, including $322m from Switzerland, $300m from the US and $308m from Jersey.

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