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Reps probe loot recovered from Abacha since 1998

The house of representatives has resolved to probe the funds recovered from Sani Abacha, former military head of state, from 1998 till date.

The lawmakers are also seeking to investigate how the funds have so far been used, including the charges paid to lawyers and consultants.

The resolution followed a motion introduced during plenary on Wednesday by Sunday Karimi from Kogi state.

Abubakar Malami, attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, had recently signed an agreement on behalf of the federal government with Switzerland for the release of $322 million said to have been stolen by Abacha.

This is just one of the previous recoveries made by both current and past administrations of the said loot, usually through signed treaties.

TheCable had reported how the repatriation of $321 million stolen by Abacha ran into a storm with suspicious moves on “re-looting the loot” through the backdoor.

The federal government had, between 2013 and 2014, used the services of Swiss lawyers, Enrico Monfrini and Christian Luscher, to recover the stolen funds from Liechtenstein and Luxembourg — and domiciled the monies with the attorney-general of Switzerland since then.

Nigeria also undertook to pay 4% of the recovered Luxemburg assets as professional fees and expenses to the lawyers, in addition to roughly $6.8 million in fees to be paid to Monfrini for the Liechtenstein recoveries.

On Wednesday, Karimi said by virtue of section 12 (1) of the 1999 constitution, no treaty  between the federal government and any other country shall have legal backing such treaty has been enacted by the national assembly.

He also said sections 80 and 81 of the constitution  stipulates that any revenue raised and received by the federal government shall be paid to the consolidated revenue fund.

While opposing the plan to distribute the loot among poor Nigerians, the lawmaker called on the federal government to come up with a supplementary appropriation bill, earmarking the funds from the loot that would be used for the completion of the Ajaokuta steel complex.

“How many poor families have been identified? Let’s follow the laws of the land. This is impunity and has to be stopped,” he said.

Abdumumin Jibrin from Kano state also called for thorough investigation into the recovered funds, adding that “there is nothing wrong with consulting the national assembly” regarding its expenses.

Hassan Saleh from Benue also said the recovered loot should be injected into the Ajaokuta plant for its completion.

Thereafter, the house set up an ad hoc committee to also find out if due procedure was followed in the recovery.