Court Directs Former Presidents to Account for $5bn Abacha Loot

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Court Directs Former Presidents to Account for $5bn Abacha Loot

In a significant ruling, the Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the disclosure of spending details related to the approximately $5 billion Abacha loot by the governments of former Nigerian presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan, and Muhammadu Buhari.

The court has directed President Bola Tinubu’s administration to disclose the exact amount of money stolen by General Sani Abacha from Nigeria and the total amount of Abacha loot recovered, along with any agreements signed by the previous governments regarding the recovered funds.

The judgment was delivered in response to a Freedom of Information suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP). Justice James Kolawole Omotosho ordered the Ministry of Finance to provide SERAP with the full spending details of the Abacha loot within seven days of the judgment.

Additionally, the court mandated the disclosure of information regarding the projects carried out with the Abacha loot, including their locations and the names of the companies and contractors involved. It also called for transparency regarding the specific roles played by the World Bank and other partners in executing projects funded by the Abacha loot under the mentioned former presidents’ administrations.

The court dismissed objections raised by the Federal Government and affirmed SERAP’s arguments, emphasizing that access to information about the spending details of the Abacha loot is a right granted by the Freedom of Information Act. The judgment highlighted the responsibility of public institutions and officers to provide requested information within seven days.

SERAP has since sent a letter to President Tinubu, urging the immediate enforcement of the court’s judgment and the release of the requested information. Compliance with the judgment would be seen as a commitment to the rule of law, transparency, and accountability, setting a positive precedent for the governance processes and management of public resources.

The suit named the Minister of Finance, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Minister of Justice as defendants. The court also granted orders of mandamus, directing the government to provide the requested information and refer any corruption allegations related to the execution of projects funded by the Abacha loot to the appropriate investigative bodies.

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