Some civil society organisations (CSOs) have decided to monitor how the $321 million repatriated from the Swiss government as part of the fund stolen by Sani Abacha, former military head of state, is spent.
The organisations made this known on at a citizens’ dialogue on ‘Trending Corruption Issues in Nigeria’ organised by Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C), a UK anti-corruption programme.
Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, had said the fund, which accrued a $1.5m interest, will be spent on poor households under the social safety net programme of the federal government.
The CSOs, however, said there was the need to scrutinise spending of the money to ensure transparency and accountability.
The money had barely reached the coffers of the Nigerian government when a suspected attempt to launder it was noticed.
TheCable had reported how Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) had engaged two Nigerian lawyers for a fee of $17 million (about N6 billion) for a job already completed by Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer hired by the Nigerian government since 1999.
The Cable had also reported that Mofrini had denied the claim by Malami that he demanded extra pay, necessitating the AGF to hire the new lawyers.
The house of representatives consequently set up an ad-hoc panel to probe the attempt to pay dubious fees amounting to $17 million to the two lawyers.
The CSOs which participated in the dialogue included Action Aid Nigeria, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Centre for Communication and Social Impact.
Others include Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and Media Rights Agenda (MRA).
David Ugolor, executive director, ANEEJ, said the role of the CSOs would be to ensure that the money does “does not go into the hands of politicians and middlemen.”
Ugolor said some of the projects listed by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo administration which received $480m as the first tranche of the funds in 2004, could not be found.
“When CSOs carried out investigations, we could not locate some of the projects and we prepared a shadow report on it,” Ugolor said.
“So, now that the Nigerian government has received another tranche, we have decided to monitor its utilisation.
“The government says it will be used as a social safety net for poor Nigerians through conditional cash transfers.
“Our role is to ensure that the money does not go into the hands of politicians and middlemen.
“We are also to sensitise the beneficiaries on how to judiciously use the money to improve their lives.’’
According to him, the CSOs will be working with the cash transfer office to ensure that the process is transparent and beneficial to Nigeria.