Nigeria: Abacha Loot Spent On Roads, Electricity, Education, Health and Water – World Bank

Socio — Economic Rights and Accountability
Project (SERAP) has “received several documents
from the World Bank totalling over 700 pages on
information on the spending of recovered assets
stolen by the late General Abacha, with some of
the documents suggesting that Abacha loot was
spent on roads, electricity, education, health and
This information was disclosed by SERAP
executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni in a
statement dated 29 November 2015.
The organisation said, “SERAP can confirm that
last week we received several documents from
Ann May of the Access to Information Team of
the World Bank following our Access to
Information Request to the Bank. We also
received a letter dated 24 November 2015 from Mr
Rachid Benmessaoud, Director of the World Bank
in Africa.”
“In total, SERAP has received over 700 pages of
documents, which we are now closely studying and
scrutinising with a view to discovering whether
the documents contain details that Nigerians
would like to see and whether the information
correspond to the facts on the ground. After this
analysis, we will respond to the Bank and consider
our options, including filing an appeal before the
Bank’s Access to Information Appeals Board and
taking other appropriate legal actions nationally
and internationally to discover what exactly
happened to Abacha recovered loot,” the
organisation said.
The organisation said that “In the meantime our
preliminary review of some of the documents and
the letter from Mr Rachid Benmessaoud have
revealed certain facts which raise more questions
about what exactly happened to Abacha loot:
First, that Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Minister
of Finance in a letter dated 9 January 2005
explained to the Bank that around $500m (N65bn)
of Abacha loot received from Switzerland was
programmed into and spent in the 2004 and 2005
budgets on roads, electricity, education, water
and health across all 6 geo-political zones of

“Second, Mrs Iweala explained to the Bank that
N18.60bn was spent on roads; N10.83bn spent on
health; N7bn spent on education; N6.20bn spent
on water; and N21.70bn spent on electricity. She
also said that part of the funds were spent on
new and ongoing investment projects. Mrs Iweala
said that relevant federal ministries have the full
details on the spending of repatriated Abacha
loot. The Bank noted that there was no funds
monitoring and tracking mechanism in place to
trace the spending of Abacha loot,” the
organisation also disclosed.
“Third, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud confirmed that
the World Bank played a monitoring role in a
return of assets by Switzerland but that the
Bank is not currently involved in the monitoring
of spending of Abacha loot that have been
returned to Nigeria in recent years. He said that
the Bank would be prepared to set up a
mechanism to monitor the use of Abacha loot if
the Nigerian government request the Bank’s
assistance in this respect.”
“Given Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s involvement in the
spending of Abacha loot, SERAP calls on President
Muhammadu Buhari to urgently probe the role of
the Ministry of Finance and relevant federal
ministries at the time in the spending of Abacha
loot particularly given the strong allegations of
mismanagement that characterised the use of the
funds,” the organisation said.
“Although Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said that Abacha
loot was spent in the 2004 and 2005 budgets on
roads, electricity, education, water and health
across all 6 geo-political zones of Nigeria, there
is no evidence of such projects as millions of
Nigerians continue to travel on dead roads, while
they continue to lack access to adequate
electricity supply, water, health and quality
education.Therefore, President Buhari can no
longer continue to remain silent on this issue of
public interest if Nigerians are to continue to
trust him in his fight against corruption,” the
organisation also said.
It would be recalled that in a letter dated 15
October 2015 and signed by Ann May of the Access
to Information Team, the Bank said that “In
response to your request under AI3982, we would
like to inform you that we are still considering
your request and need additional time to provide
you with a more comprehensive response.”
The letter reads in part “In most cases, we will
be able to respond within twenty (20) working
days from receipt of a request for information.
However, we may need additional time in special
circumstances, for example, if the request is
complex or voluminous or if it requires further
review by or consultation with internal World
Bank units, external parties, the Access to
Information Committee, or the World Bank’s
Board of Executive Directors.”

Earlier, SERAP had on 21 September 2015 sent an
access to information request to Jim Yong Kim,
President, World Bank Group urging him to
“exercise the Bank’s prerogative to release
documents relating to spending of recovered
assets stolen by Late General Sani Abacha”.
The group also asked Mr Yong Kim to “disclose
information about the Bank’s role in the
implementation of any projects funded by the
recovered assets and any other on-going
repatriation initiatives on Nigeria with which the
Bank is engaged.”
The request was “pursuant to the World Bank’s
Access to Information Policy (The Policy),
approved by the Board on June 30 205. SERAP
notes that one of the Policy’s guiding principles
is to maximize access to information. There is
also clear public interest in Nigerians knowing
about the Bank’s supervisory role and specifically
its involvement in the implementation of projects
on which repatriated funds were spent.”