Thursday 10 December 2015

Okonjo-Iweala opens up on her role in disbursement N61.4billion Abacha loot

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Former Minister of Finance, and Co-ordinating Minister for Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was said to have illegally approved the transfer of N61.4 billion from funds recovered from late dictator, Sani Abacha, to the Office of the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, few weeks to the 2015 presidential election.

According to a letter signed by Okonjo-Iweala, the former Finance minister signed off the transfer of the funds but requested then President Goodluck Jonathan to directly demand accountability from the then National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki.

In her response yesterday, Okonjo-Iweala said attempt to link her name to any misuse of these funds for any purpose other than security as far as she understood it is totally false and cannot stand.

In a statement signed by her Media Adviser, Paul C Nwabuikwu, she explained her role in the disbursement of the fund.
According to her, “throughout 2014, there were public complaints by the military hierarchy to President Goodluck Jonathan about the inadequacy of funds to fight the anti-terror war in the North East, resulting in Boko Haram making gains and even taking territories. A lot of the criticism was directed at the Federal Ministry of Finance under Dr Okonjo-Iweala which was accused of not doing enough to find funds for the operations.
“In fact, the ministry, on several occasions, had to call press conferences to provide details of budgetary spending on the military, to show, against the background of limited resources and other urgent national priorities, that it was doing its best on funding security.
“It was about this time that some new Abacha funds of about $322 million were returned with another $700 million still expected to be returned. (This is not to be confused with the Abacha funds returned in 2005-2006 under the Obasanjo government whose use for developmental purposes was monitored by the World Bank as earlier explained by Dr Okonjo-Iweala).
“Former President Jonathan set up a committee comprising the former Minister of Justice, former NSA and the former Minister of Finance to determine how best to use both the returned and expected funds for development.
“The NSA made a case for using the returned funds for urgent security operations since, he noted, there cannot be any development without peace and security. Based on this, a decision was taken to deploy about $322 million for the military operations, while the expected $700 million would be applied for development programmes as originally conceived.
“Following the discussions and based on the urgency of the NSA’s memo, Dr Okonjo-Iweala requested the President to approve the transfer of the requested amount to the NSA’s Office for the specified purposes.
“But, as captured in the memo, she insisted on three conditions: a. only a part, not the entire Abacha funds would be spent on the arms; the rest would be invested in developmental projects as originally conceived b. the money was to be treated as borrowed funds which would be paid back as soon as possible c. the NSA’s office was to account for the spending to the President who was the Commander in Chief, given the fact that the Minister of Finance is not part of the security architecture and does not participate in the Security Council.”

Credit: Vanguard

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