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Monday, July 15, 2024

Federal Court Orders Former Nigerian Presidents to Account for $5 Billion Abacha Loot

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ABUJA, Nigeria – The Federal High Court in Abuja, in a landmark judgment, has ordered the disclosure of spending details of approximately $5 billion in recovered funds, known as the Abacha loot, by the governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan, and Muhammadu Buhari.

The court also instructed the current government under President Bola Tinubu to disclose the exact amount stolen by General Sani Abacha from Nigeria, along with the total amount of recovered loot and all agreements signed on the same topic by previous administrations.

The judgment was delivered on Monday, July 3, 2023, by Justice James Kolawole Omotosho in response to a Freedom of Information suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP.

Justice Omotosho directed the government to disclose details of the projects funded by the recovered funds, their locations, and the companies and contractors involved.

Furthermore, the court ordered the disclosure of specific roles played by the World Bank and other partners in executing projects funded with the recovered loot under the previous administrations.

In his judgment, Justice Omotosho stated that the Minister of Finance’s claim that the Ministry did not possess exact records was inadmissible in view of Section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Justice Omotosho dismissed all objections raised by the Federal Government and upheld SERAP’s arguments. As a result, the court ruled in SERAP’s favor against the Federal Government.

SERAP has since sent a letter to President Tinubu, urging him to respect and obey the court’s judgment, saying, “We urge you to demonstrate your expressed commitment to the rule of law by immediately obeying and respecting the judgment of the Court.”

Defendants in the suit included the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

As a result of the judgment, several mandamus orders were issued against the Nigerian government, compelling the disclosure of a wide range of information pertaining to the Abacha loot.

The orders also mandated the Federal Government to refer any corruption allegations involving projects funded with the recovered funds to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, for investigation.

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