The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), a civil society group, has asked the federal government to identify and sanction those who assisted Sani Abacha, former head of state, in “looting the nation’s treasury”.
The group said the federal government has the moral obligation to explain to Nigerians questions surrounding illicit funds traced to Abacha.
Recently, the British crown dependency of Jersey seized £211 million said to have been laundered from Nigeria by the late head of state.
In a statement by Olanrewaju Suraju, chairman of HEDA, the group commended 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 Loot, which should include identifying the collaborators, the banks and other financial institutions involved.
The group asked the federal government to institute an extensive probe into the era of military rule with the goal of what it called “total recovery” to ensure that “criminals will have their judgment day irrespective of time and space”.
“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,” 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.
“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 These funds passed through the banking system, they were not shipped abroad; the funds were withdrawn from the Nigerian financial system definitely with the collaboration of some officials.
“These are grave questions that Nigerians should ask.”
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”.