The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday said it has uncovered fresh plots by a cabal in the Presidency and the All Progressives Congress, APC, to allegedly use fake subheads and duplicated projects as a ploy to re-loot the recently repatriated $311 million traced to late former military dictator, General Sani Abacha, retd. But APC in a swift reaction, said the PDP was frustrated by a lack of access to loot public funds.
This is even as the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, asked Nigerians to focus on what the funds would be used for and desist from throwing undue tantrums on his office and the Federal Government. However, PDP yesterday claimed that the cabal had perfected the use of fake subheads as nomenclatures to “mislead those who repatriated the fund and pave the way for the frittering of the money to their private pockets as they had done with earlier repatriated funds.” It demanded that the fund be surrendered to the National Assembly for proper statutory appropriation and urged Nigerians to resist schemes by the cabal to prevent them from demanding explanations on the looting of repatriated funds,” it added.
PDP’s litany of allegations The party disclosed this yesterday in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan. The statement further read: “The fraudulent dissipation of the funds will then be followed with false performance claims as well as blackmailing and intimidation of Nigerians demanding for both transparency and accountability in the handling of the money. “The party noted that such had become the standard ruse for the cabal and APC leaders, who also looted the earlier repatriated $322 million under the guise of sharing money to the poor in 19 states and had no answers to allegations that more than 90 percent of the 300,000 households listed as beneficiaries were phony family names.
“Nigerians would recall how the claims of the APC government were rubbished by the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, who had alerted the nation that the N500 billion Social Investment Programme of the Buhari administration was hugely shrouded in corruption and that bulk of the money did not get to the poor and vulnerable. “Furthermore, the Federal Government had failed to publish the details of the alleged APC leaders who own the consulting firms that were allegedly paid billions of naira upfront as consultancy fee for the ‘sharing’ of the money, which was not also passed through the constitutionally required approval of the National Assembly. “The APC-led Federal Government had also failed to account for the $308 million repatriated in February, for which it cannot point to any project, but rather faced with allegations of unbridled looting by the cabal and certain APC leaders, including those exposed to be receiving huge percentages from repatriated funds.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note that the APC government had remained silent on the report by the US Department of State that the Federal Government plots to funnel this repatriated money to certain individuals connected to the APC.’’ Why PDP is frustrated — APC In its reaction, the APC said the PDP was frustrated by a lack of access to loot public funds. APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Isa-Onilu, said: “Going by the PDP’s, statement on the recovered $311 million repatriated funds, it is clear that the opposition party is salivating over Abacha loot, saddened by a missed opportunity to share the money as they used to.
‘’Unfortunately, PDP is unable to rid corruption from its DNA and until the party has the courage to burn its corruption handbook to ashes, it would be difficult for it not to hallucinate over public funds. ”Of course, we understand PDP’s frustrations. Its unsuccessful and serial attempts to tar the APC government with the corruption toga in order to blur its own image as a party that personifies corruption in words and deeds has turned the party into a laughing stock. “For the umpteenth time, we remind the PDP that the government that the APC runs is not about sharing public funds amongst the ruling class, but about using taxpayers’ money to impact positively on the lives of the people.
“On the recovery of $311 million, we refer the PDP to the 2020 Asset Return Agreement which requires the fund to be transferred to a Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Asset Recovery designated account and which would then be paid to the National Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA, designated as the project management and execution authority within the next 14 days. “The PDP should understand that the funds being repatriated under the President Buhari government is an indictment on successive PDP administrations which many countries found too corrupt and with a renowned propensity to re-loot the stolen monies, hence they held on to much of the funds.
“When the PDP administration under President Olusegun Obasanjo left office on 29 May 2007, the government had recouped $2 billion, including the $825million previously retrieved by General Abdulsalami Abubakar. ‘’Switzerland and Bailiwick of Jersey also repatriated $149 million in November 2003 and £22.5 million in June 2011, among other international and local recoveries by successive PDP governments which were shrouded in secrecy.
“Successive PDP governments strangely resisted widespread calls to periodically publish detailed information on the loot recovery exercise – the amounts recovered, those from whom they were recovered, sources or countries from where they were recovered. Malami tasks Nigerians Meanwhile, the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, has asked Nigerians to focus on what the funds would be used for and desist from throwing undue tantrums on his office and the federal government.
He also insisted that it was proper and lawful to categorize the money as assets, following the successful return of the huge cash to Nigeria, which is to be channeled to the completion of the Kano-Abuja, Lagos-Ibadan highways and the Second Niger Bridge. The minister, who made the clarification in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Gwandu, yesterday, said: “The attention of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to needless media hype relating to purported characterization of the recovered assets associated with former Head of State, General Sani Abacha as ‘Abacha Assets’.
The office maintains that the choice of words was deliberate. “It is to be noted that by way of antecedence that Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has been consistently describing the recovered funds as “Abacha loot” at several fora during the process of recovery of the looted funds, particularly before the eventual repatriation of the funds.” “The point needs to be made that when the seal of legitimacy was appended to the funds by way of repatriation it became an asset in favor of the Federal Government as a beneficial owner of the same. “Beyond the issues of verbal dexterity and vocal acrobatics, Nigerians should focus more on effective utilization of the recovered looted funds in accordance with the content of the signed tripartite agreement in the interest of the Nigerian public.
“It may interest the general public to note that there is a unit called Assets Recovery and Management Unit, ARMU, at the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. The use of the word “assets” in relation to the post-recovery of looted assets is to qualify the same as Federal Government assets. “It is palpable that news about the successful return of the looted assets has brought nightmares to nay-sayers and pessimists who wanted to frustrate the repatriation process through campaign of calumny; hence resorting to rhetoric instead of burying the heads in shame. “The return of the looted funds demonstrates not only commendable efforts of the present government, but also a pointer to the level of confidence, trust and respect the international community accords the Buhari-led Federal Government.’’