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Buhari: $320m Abacha loot will be spent on the poor

President Muhammadu Buhari says the $320 million Sani Abacha loot will be put into the conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme targeted at the “poorest of Nigerians”.

Buhari  said this on Monday while declaring open the 8th Commonwealth Regional Conference for Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Abuja.

The president said it was heartwarming to note that there is a renewed and collective effort on overcoming legal hurdles in asset recovery and return.

“It is heartwarming to note that there is evidence of a renewed commitment to collectively identify the most effective ways to overcoming legal hurdles to asset recovery and return,” Buhari said.

“The Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) in December 2017 is one good example. This is the latest efforts in facilitating asset recovery and return. The meeting brought together government from four countries from which resources have been stolen, namely Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine  and those from other countries that tend to be the destinations for these looted resources to coordinate efforts aimed at identifying those resources and ensuring successful repatriation.

“The GFAR saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Nigeria and the Government of Switzerland for the return of an additional $320m of the Sani Abacha loot.

“Included in that agreement is the commitment that the funds would be invested in one of Nigeria’s flagship social investment programmes, the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme targeted at the poorest and most vulnerable households in our country.

“Fighting corruption is futile, if proceeds of corruption finds safe haven. Regrettably, the procedures to obtain mutual legal assistance to seize, confiscate, to repatriate proceeds of corruption are often so complex.

“Corruption is a global challenge and it requires global collaboration to tackle it. We need to break down the walls and collaborate. African countries must come together to address this issue.”

On his part, Wole Soyinka, a Nobel laurette, said the fight against corruption would not be won until some past leaders are jailed.

“Until we make sure some of our leaders pass through the jail doors of the new EFCC headquarters, the fight against corruption will not be won,” he said.

Patricia Scotland, secretary general, Commonwealth, said: “We will be seeking to meet the challenges of one another over the next four days. This conference is a demonstration that we are all eager to create a paradigm shift.”

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