HEDA tasks Buhari on Abacha’s $500m loot

#TrackNigeria – The Federal Government has the moral obligation to explain to Nigerians many questions surrounding illicit funds said to be in millions of dollars traced to late Military Head of State, Lt Gen. Sani Abacha, a civil rights group has said.

Only last week reports indicated fresh discovery of another 211 million pounds traced to the late dictator. The fund is part of a global $500m found in Paris, Dublin, London and Island of Jersey barely a decade ago.

In a weekend statement signed by Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) commended the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari for taking a drastic step to recover the funds as against the culture of appeasement by previous administrations that signed various retrogressive agreements with interests holding the funds.

HEDA said the Federal Government needs a comprehensive roadmap on Abacha’s loot which the group said should include identifying the collaborators in the looting; the banks and other financial institutions involved and individuals who were responsible for laundering the funds.

 “These funds were kept by some banks for 20 years. The FG should invoke international instruments to sanction international collaborators who assisted in fleecing the country.”

HEDA said the recovery of Abacha’s loot was not enough, adding that President Buhari should institute an extensive probe into the era of military rule with the goal of what it called “total recovery.”

It said that going into the past should not be seen as time wasting but as an historic responsibility of the government in ensuring that criminals will have their judgment day irrespective of time and space.

The group said it was regrettable that while Abacha’s reign lasted for five years, efforts at unveiling gross cases of corruption during the iron-rule era had been restricted to only the former Military leader as if his lieutenants were saints.

The group said “A crooked leader is expected to be surrounded by a retinue of corrupt aides. With the looting of billions of dollars by Abacha, it should be expected that the five-year rule represented an era of the locust when public funds were plundered in the most reckless and irresponsible manner.” 

It said “Recovering the looted funds of late Abacha should be commended, but there are still many rivers to cross. Many loose ends are yet to be tied. These funds passed through the banking system, they were not shipped abroad; the funds were withdrawn from Nigerian financial system definitely with the collaboration of some officials. These are grave questions that Nigerians should ask,” Suraju stated.

HEDA said though series of reports have concentrated on naming Abacha as the culprit but that the Federal Government has failed to name the inevitable collaborators and enablers. The OPL245 heist, from investigation and evidence could not have been possible without the active complicity of local and international banks and companies. 

The group said a comprehensive probe into the past will strengthen public confidence that criminals of yesteryears will not be allowed to live with the impression that you can live in peace at the expense of misery and extreme poverty their acts of corruption had nurtured.