$23m Abacha Loot: SERAP Sues FG Over ‘Failure To Publish’ Repatriation Agreement

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the federal government over its failure to publish details of the agreement recently signed with the United States for the repatriation of $23 million Abacha loot.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), are joined in the suit.

On August 23, the federal government signed an agreement with the US government to repatriate a new batch of funds looted by Sani Abacha, the former Nigerian head of state.

Malami had said the recovered loot, which is tagged ‘Abacha-5’, has been earmarked for the completion of the Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Second Niger Bridge.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1700/2022 filed on Friday before a federal high court in Abuja, SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari and Abubakar Malami to release and widely publish a copy of the agreement on the Abacha loot with the U.S”.

The organisation argued that “the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations impose transparency obligations on the Federal Government to widely publish the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot”.

“Publishing a copy of the agreement with the U.S would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it, and to monitor the spending of the repatriated loot to ensure that the money is not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen,” it said.

“The repatriated $23 million Abacha loot is vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. A substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been mismanaged, diverted, or re-stolen, and in any case remain unaccounted for.

“Publishing a copy of the agreement would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties, including the management of repatriated loot.”

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