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The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the repatriation of £4.2 million loot recovered from friends, associates and family members of former Delta State Governor, James Onanefe Ibori from United Kingdom and enjoined the Federal Government of Nigeria, under President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure judicious use of the funds in areas that could revive the near comatose economy of the country.

In a release issued by the Centre on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, he stated, “We received the news that the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms. Catriona Laing, said the money would be returned to Nigeria in batches. She said £4.2 million would be returned to Nigeria in the first batch. Laing spoke at a ceremony for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between both countries in Abuja. She disclosed that the £4.2 million was recovered from Ibori’s friends, associates and family members. According to her the case of Ibori was complicated, saying that the UK government was still working on it to ascertain how much was really involved. She said with time, more funds stolen by Ibori would be repatriated to Nigeria”.

“It is noteworthy that James Ibori was convicted in the UK for money laundering and jailed. On 27 February 2012, he was charged with stealing US$250 million from the Delta state treasury. The former governor pleaded guilty to ten counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud at Southwark Crown Court, London. Incidentally, nothing tangible could be said to have happened to the people of this country even with all the looted funds being recovered or repatriated from both within and outside the country since the advent of the civil rule and even under the current dispensation as the country continues to run a mono-cultural economy with the prices of foodstuff and other basic needs skyrocketing and gradually rising beyond the reach of an average citizen”.

“Although, Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who signed for the country, said President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the returned loot be deployed to completion of the second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan and the Abuja to Kano expressway projects. The level of retooling of such repatriated funds became so worrisome and a cause for regrets that THE US government was reported to have insisted that Nigeria should be ready to ‘replace’ the over USD300m it returned if the fund was misused. This is so as previously repatriated funds continue to develop wings and find their ways into private pockets while the country laments its collective woes”.

“We therefore, lend our voice in requesting for the judicious use of this huge capital, both on social provisions of amenities that could ameliorate the unsuitable conditions of majority of Nigerians that have been so far, worsened by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and in enhancing certain capital projects that should have a positive roll-over on the national economy and infrastructure on the long run. We also pledge our commitment and readiness in providing monitoring and oversight roles towards assisting government in achieving openness and accountability at the end of utilization of the latest repatriated funds.”

The CACOL Boss added, “In as much as we welcome the repatriation of this loot, we want to call on the government to device means whereby stealing of public funds will be more difficult and very easy to expose. The fight against corruption should be intensified and those that have been found culpable should be prosecuted and be made to face the full wrath of the law so as to serve as deterrent to others. The whistle blowing policy should be reinvigorated. There should be more synergy with foreign financial institutions and investigators so that if any money is looted from the home front, it will not take eternity before the evil act is exposed”.

Mr. Tola Oresanwo

Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL

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