CSOs vow to monitor disbursement of Abacha loot

Concerned civil society organisations under the aegis of the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) have vowed to monitor federal government cash transfer programme to ensure that the $322.5m General Sani Abacha’s recovered loot would not be re-looted.

The groups say they are collaborating with the British Department for International Development (DFID) and the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) towards ensuring that the recovered funds were put into judicious use through effective monitoring of National Cash Transfer Programmes.

The groups gave the assurance during the South East regional launch of the Monitoring Recovered Assets in Nigeria through Transparency and Accountability (MANTRA) at Amawbia, Anambra state.

The CIRDDOC Project Advisor, Engr. Ralph Ndigwe, stressed that the $322.5m recovered funds belong to Nigerians and, by monitoring the usage of the money, the CSOs will ensure that they remain for Nigerians instead of being relooted by others.

Ndigwe disclosed that the group would raise and train local monitors who would monitor the payment of the conditional cash transfer, CCT, to ensure that it directly goes to those it is meant for.
He regretted that a lot of people claim to be of abject poverty to benefit from the project MANTRA, warning that those found wanting would be spared.

Expressing regrets that the South East had not keyed into the MANTRA projects, Ndigwe commended the Anambra state government for buying into the idea, even as he enjoined other states to borrow a leaf from the state. He further disclosed that Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ekiti, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, Osun, Oyo, Plateau and Taraba were the only beneficiaries of the programme.

In a remark, the unit head, Anambra state National Cash Transfer Office, saddled with the disbursement of the N5,000 conditional cash transfer (CCT) for the poorest of the poor, Mr. Ralph Enukorah said that its staff had been attacked over removal of names of citizens who enrolled to benefit from the programme.

Enukorah, clarified that the CCT programme was meant for very poor people in various parts of Nigeria and aimed at alleviating the pangs of poverty experienced by them.

According to him, “Some people have been targeted wrongly and their names enrolled into the programme. They disguised as poor people to collect the money, even though they are known to have good means of livelihood.

“We have been attacked by people in local parts of Anambra state who entered their names hoping to benefit from the programme but were removed when we found out that they did not fall into the category of people targeted to benefit”.

Enukorah disclosed that in Anambra state, a total of 7,615 people were targeted and 7,609 persons were benefiting from the programme. He noted that there was room for expansion.

Earlier, the executive director of CIRDDOC, Raluchukwu Nwankwo-Obioha, noted that corruption was a major problem in Nigeria and responsible for the spread of poverty and underdevelopment, stressing that the United Nations and African Union had said that around $148 billion got stolen annually.

Nwankwo-Obioha, represented by Pascal Anozie, noted that the federal government with the international community, had shown some commitment and determination to trace, track and repatriate looted assets to their countries of origin to finance development.

“CIRDDOC is leading the implementation of MANTRA projects in the South East of Nigeria and will concentrate on advocating for improved policy, legislation and institutional framework for the recovery and management of recovered loots in Nigeria as well as monitoring the use of the returned $322.5 million of Abacha loot for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme of the FG”, she said.

In a vote of thanks, one of the coordinators of CIRDDOC, Mazi Jerry Udochu, said adequate monitoring would help to achieve the envisaged goals of MANTRA project, calling on other states in the south east to join.

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