Abacha Loot: Nigerian Activists Demand Prosecution Of Ex-Minister, Okonjo-Iweala
One of Nigeria’s most prominent anti-corruption coalitions, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has urged the chairman, Code of Conduct Bureau to immediately prosecute the immediate past Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for “abuse of office and contravention of institutionalised procedures for public office holders while in office”.
In a petition to the Bureau, signed by its chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, the coalition criticised the illegal manner the former coordinating minister of the economy allegedly disbursed funds recovered from late Sanni Abacha.
The group also accused the former minister of having misled Nigerians with false information on the utilization of the said fund.
“In the past weeks, Nigerians have been inundated with revelations of how the former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki misappropriated the sum of $300million and £5.5 million which was meant for the purchase of arms and ammunition to enable the military combat the insurgency orchestrated by Boko Haram,” Mr. Suraju said.
“Further revelation and reports have also shown that the said funds from the recovered Abacha fund was illegally transferred to the Office of the National Security Adviser by the immediate past Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.”
Arguing that since the said funds were not appropriated by the National Assembly before the transfers were made, the disbursement was illegal and unlawful.
The group continued, “In a letter dated the 20th of January, 2015, which was addressed to former president Goodluck Jonathan, the former finance Minister had sought his approval for the funds to be disbursed to the ONSA for procurement of arms to fight the Boko Haram insurgency.
“However, as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, it behoves her to ensure that transfer of the said funds was carried out according to established laws and to also ensure that they were properly utilized. She therefore abdicated her responsibility to Dr. Jonathan to demand accounts of the funds from Mr. Dasuki,
“Furthermore at several fora, Dr. Iweala had misled Nigerians with false information on the utilization of proceeds of the recovered Abacha funds by the previous administration.
“She had on several occasions stated that the funds had been spent on road constructions, power generation, schools and other developmental projects across the country.”
CSNAC described Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s action as a clear case of abuse of powers and breach of provisions of Code of Conduct for public officers.
It quoted Paragraph 9, Part 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers under the 5th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) provides as saying:
“A public officer shall not do or direct to be done, in abuse of his office, any arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of any other person knowing that such act is unlawful or contrary to any government policy.”
Mr. Suraju continued, “By transferring funds in clear violation of constitutional provisions, Dr. Iweala has clearly done an act contrary to government policy, thereby breaching the provisions of the Code of Conduct for public officers.
“If she had followed due process in the transfer of the funds by seeking the approval of the National Assembly, the country would have been saved from this huge mess. Thousands of Nigerians have and are still losing their lives and have become displaced in their own country due to the terrorist activities.
“Our gallant soldiers have been made to fight the war without adequate equipments and have been court martial for daring to complain. Yet, all of these happened due to the activities of unpatriotic and corrupt officials who were encouraged by the laxity and abuse of office on the part of the former finance minister.
“CSNAC is therefore by this petition demanding the prosecution of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala for abusing her office as finance minister by illegally transferring the said funds to the Office of the National SecurityAdviser.
“You will agree with us that public officers need to be made to realize that the powers conferred on them by their offices are not arbitrary and are subject to scrutiny and control at all times. The prosecution of Dr. Iweala will contribute immensely in conveying that message to all public officers.”
It is not clear at the time of this report whether the Code of Conduct Bureau had responded to the group.