The World Bank has said it would take a lot of time to give a comprehensive response on how the late Sani Abacha’s loot was disbursed.
Following a request by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), the World Bank representative responded that the Bank requires additional time to provide comprehensive information on the spending of recovered funds looted by the late military ruler Sani Abacha during his reign in Nigeria.
“In response to your request 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,” told Ann May of the World Bank’s Access to Information Team in the letter dated October 15.
She informed SERAP representatives that though in most cases it takes up to twenty working days to respond the request for information, under special circumstances it can take much more time. The special circumstances include the complex and voluminous requests that usually require consultation with the World Bank’s board of executive directors as well as the internal units and external parties.
“We regret any inconvenience that a delay may cause you and, if one does occur, will aim to minimize it as much as possible,” concluded Ann Mayin the letter, adding that the World Bank “will notify you promptly of any updates to the status of your request.”
The estimates of the funds stolen by the late military ruler Sani Abacha during the period of his reign from 1993 to 1998 vary. While it is estimated that the stolen funds make up at least $ 4.3 billion, some experts claim that the sum of the stolen assets is much higher and might be as huge as $ 7 billion. Thus, Abacha, who ruled Nigeria for five years after a 1993 coup, is believed to to be among the ranks of Congo’s Mobutu Sese Seko as one of Africa’s most avaricious looters in power.
Adetokunbo Mumuni, the SERAP’s executive director, speaking on the delays with the initiative to recover Abacha’s loot, told: “we welcome the Bank’s decision to thoroughly consider the request. This thorough process shows the seriousness the Bank attaches to the request, and will hopefully contribute to a positive outcome that will serve the interest of justice and millions of Nigerians who want to know about disbursement of Abacha loot.”
SERAP sent its request to Jim Yong Kim, the World Banlk’s president, on 21 September, 2015, asking him to release documents relating to disbursement of recovered funds stolen by late General Abacha.
The SERAP’s request stated: “The World Bank has been involved in overseeing the transfer, disbursement, spending of recovered funds from General Abacha, and other similar initiatives to repatriate stolen funds to Nigeria. As such, the World Bank is not a neutral party in this matter.”
On September 7 the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the involvement of the World Bank in the repatriation, management and spending of stolen funds.
The SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni stated that over $2?billion stolen by the late head of state, General Sani Abacha, was repatriated back to Nigeria during the General Abdulsalam Abubakar and former president Olusegun Obasanjo administrations.
A year ago two senior lawyers from the United States of America have asked the Attorney-General of the country, Eric Holder Jr., to without delay repatriate the $458m assets stolen by a former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, and his accomplices to Nigeria.
A global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption, Transparent International, has made it known that the Abacha regime embezzled between $3 billion and $5 billion of public funds. The Justice Department suit filed in November 2013 saying that Abacha, his son Mohammed Sani Abacha, their associate Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and others embezzled, misappropriated and extorted money from the Nigerian government.
They laundered funds by buying bonds backed by the United States using U.S. financial institutions, prosecutors said. The assets were held in banks that included Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc and Banque SBA, according to the lawsuit.
Last year, after a 16-year legal battle, Nigeria recovered from Liechtenstein $228 million stolen by Abacha and his associates. Besides that, Nigeria had recovered about $1.3 billion of Abacha’s money from various European jurisdictions.