In a landmark decision, the Abuja Federal High Court ordered the disclosure of the $5 billion Sani Abacha plunder seized by the administrations of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan, and Muhammadu Buhari.
The court ordered the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to “disclose the exact amount of money stolen by General Sani Abacha from Nigeria, as well as the total amount of Abacha loot recovered, as well as all agreements signed on same by the governments of former Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan, and Buhari.”
Justice James Omotosho issued the decision in response to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project’s (SERAP) Freedom of Information request, FHC/ABJ/CS/407/2020.
“In the final analysis,” Omotosho said, “the application by SERAP is meritorious, and the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Finance, is hereby ordered to furnish SERAP with the full spending details of about $5 billion Abacha loot within 7 days of this judgment.”
The judge also ordered the government to “disclose details of the projects carried out with the Abacha loot, the locations of any such projects, and the names of companies and contractors that carried out or are carrying out the projects since the return of democracy in 1999 until the present.”
He also demanded “details of specific roles played by the World Bank and other partners in the execution of any projects funded with Abacha loot under the governments of former Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan, and Buhari.”
“The Minister of Finance’s excuse is that the Ministry has searched its records and the specific public funds stolen by Abacha and how the funds were spent are not held by the Ministry.” “In light of Section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act, the excuse has no legs to stand on,” Omotosho added.
He did, however, dismiss all of the Federal Government’s objections and affirmed SERAP’s claims.