Gentlemen of the Press,

Distinguished Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of the Board, Management and Staff of ANEEJ, I welcome you all to this World Press Conference to officially announce the commencement of the Monitoring of the use of the returned $322.5million Abacha Loot by the Federal Government targeted at the poorest of the poor Nigerians.

Flowing from commitments reached at the London anti-corruption summit held in 2016, the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) held in Washington in December 2017. This saw the return of US$322.5 million from Switzerland to Nigeria now referred to as “Abacha 2”. This return is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed by the Governments of Nigeria and Switzerland with active CSOs participation led by ANEEJ, earmarking this money for the Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme under the Government’s Social Investment Programme, monitored by the World Bank.

Specifically, the money was earmarked to be spent on the poorest of the poor Nigerians whose status were appraised and arrived at by the National Safety-Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) under the supervision of the Office of the Vice President. The register of the beneficiaries was then transmitted to the National Conditional Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) which is currently disbursing the returned Abacha loot, an exercise which commenced since October 2018.

ANEEJ is Monitoring the recovered $322.5million through Transparency and Accountability in the recovery and Management of looted assets (MANTRA) project, which is being supported by the UKAID implementers of the Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (ACORN) programme. ANEEJ is working with six partners drawn from the six geopolitical zones to monitor the use of the Abacha loot in the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme (CCTP) of the Federal Government.

As a prelude to the monitoring exercise, we established a constructive partnership with the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO),and National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO)  resulting in CSOs having viewing access to all necessary information, including the beneficiary register and Nigeria Social Register(NSR) to enable end-to-end, including all disbursement from the Central Bank, with an ultimate aim of ensuring that the money gets to the targeted poorest of the poor and that it is not re-looted as was the case with previously returned Abacha loot.

We also leveraged accountable and transparent use of the World Bank loan ($500 million), linked to the utilisation of the $322.5 million as we held several meetings.

Last month, we successfully piloted monitoring arrangements “the MANTRA Model” aimed at covering cash transfers to 300,000 of the poorest Nigerians and assess the impact on their lives.  The pilot was in two states-Nasarawa and Cross River.

Last week, we deployed 504 Field Monitors, eleven Supervisors and 22 Deputy Supervisors drawn from members of the Nigerian Network on Stolen Asset (NNSA) and other Civil Society Organisations across the Country to Fact-Check the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to the Poorest of the Poor in eleven states, with the hope of covering more states in subsequent exercises. This is based on our 10 per cent sample size approximated at 300,000 Cash Transfer beneficiaries.

We covered the following geo-political zones/states: North West-Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa; North Central- Nasarawa, Niger, Kwara and Benue, North East-Bauchi and Gombe; South East-Anambra and; South-South-Cross River.

On the field, we covered targeted households and preliminary reports from monitors across the 11 states showed clearly that the money disbursed in the first trench got to the poorest of the poor. I was amazed in a community in Nasarawa State where the beneficiary even knew that the money they got in October was from the returned Abacha loot. We plan to continue the monitoring exercise in January when the next round of disbursement by the NCTO for November/December would have happened and we hope to cover states, Local Governments and Wards not covered in this first exercise

We plan to follow the money until the last dollar exchanged gets to the beneficiaries targeted by the returned loot. Gentlemen of the press, I welcome you to watch some of the experiences and testimonies from the field.

Let me conclude by expressing our deep appreciation to the UK Government through the DFID ACORN Programme in Nigeria for providing the funding for us to undertake this massive monitoring exercise that is helping to show positive results of the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

In the same vein, I like to thank the Federal Government of Nigeria, particularly Office of the Vice President, the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO), and National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) and the Central Bank for providing every information and data we required of them, in an open and transparent manner that is unprecedent in the history of this country. The unalloyed cooperation we received from them is reflective of the success we are getting in the field already.

This is our message to you from ANEEJ and we pray you to tell it to the World through your various media you represent.

Thank you and God bless!

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