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UNODC says $450 Abacha loot missing

The  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced yesterday that a whooping  $450 million out of the over $3 billion Abacha loot cannot be traced

Abacha loot represents the funds  allegedly stolen from public ocffers by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.

Guardian newspapers reports that : “Briefing on the Non-Conviction Based Forfeiture of Proceeds and Instrumentalities of Unlawful Activity Bill, Tim Daniel, a legal expert from the United Kingdom (UK) assisting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ) in the draft of the bill, stressed that even though there was proof that $450 million is stacked away somewhere, it was yet to be traced.

According to him, while the $1.9 billion recovered from the Abacha family by the Federal Government is a major success story in assets recovery, there are still funds stolen from Nigeria which are yet to be recovered.

He disclosed that $300 million is still to be repatriated to Nigeria from Luxembourg where it was stashed away by the late Head of State, saying the letters of request by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo-led administration is yet to yield fruit.

Daniel further said the late dictator also stashed $400 million in Liechtenstein which Nigeria is yet to recover. According to him, “the cases of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein are cases of monies frozen or lost by banks.”

He, however, stressed that the Federal Government and its partners have intensified investigations into the whereabouts of the funds, adding that there is hope for results soon.

Breaking down the $1.9 billion recovered from the late Head of State, Daniel said $750 million came from voluntary surrender by the family while $570 million was recovered from Switzerland.

“$380 million was recovered from Jersey and $150 million, which was the Ajaokuta Steel plant debt was recovered from UK,” he added.

The legal expert explained that asset recovery mechanisms include criminal and civil mechanisms, mutual legal assistance in criminal proceedings; international enforcement of confiscation orders; civil forfeiture and private civil proceedings.

Meanwhile, worried by the sorry state of the education sector in the country, the House of Representatives yesterday mandated its Committee on Education to investigate the circumstance behind the unutilised N22.6 billion Education Fund kept in the vault of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for over eight years.

Debating a motion sponsored by Halims Agoda and 15 others, the House also mandated the committee to find out why the institutions and other agencies for which the money was intended have not been able to access it.

The House also directed the Education Trust Fund (ETF) to release the money to all the institutions that were supposed to benefit from it.

Leading the debate on the general principles of the motion, Agoda argued that the amount was so much that if urgently utilised for the purposes it was meant, it would go a long way to improve the education sector in the country.

He said that polytechnics and universities across the country were supposed to receive between N150 million and N250 million from the fund which, according to him, could go a long way to solve some of their pressing needs.

According to him, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, was supposed to receive N230 million; Delta State University, Abraka N202 million; Federal University of Technology, Minna N200 million and Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna N116 million, among other tertiary institutions in the country.

Appealing to members at the plenary to support the motion, Agoda said it was disheartening that the ETF could keep such money while the tertiary institutions in the country groaned under heavy financial burden.

Also contributing, Leo Ogor said it amounted to wickedness for such huge sums of money meant for the development of tertiary institutions to be kept away from the beneficiaries for such a long time.

In their contributions, Chief West Idahosa, Samson Osagie and Chairman, House Committee on Education, Farouk Lawan, also argued that there was no need to keep such money away from the beneficiaries at a time they needed it most.

Also at the plenary, the House passed a motion mandating its Committee on Education to intervene in the face-off between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government.

The motion had two prayers, including that the House intervene with a view to resolving the matter and report to it within two weeks. The House urged ASUU to suspend the planned strike pending the outcome of the Committee’s intervention.

At the end of the debate, the Deputy Speaker, Alhaji Bayero Nafada who presided directed the motions to the House Committees on Education and Labour for action.