John Ameh, Abuja
Members of the House of Representatives are to question former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former President Goodluck Jonathan over the recovery of money stolen by a former military Head of State, the late Gen. Sani Abacha, The Punch learnt on Sunday.
An 11-member panel of the House constituted to investigate the recovery is set to start work this week, The Punch further gathered in Abuja.
Findings indicated that the panel, which is chaired by a former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin, would visit Obasanjo and Jonathan in their homes to question them over their role in the recovery.
The visit, The Punch learnt, is to be a deviation from the usual practice of issuing summons to persons to appear before National Assembly committees in a bid to accord the two former leaders due respect.
However, the committee will summon the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun; the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele; and a former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Also to be summoned are former AGF, ministers of finance and CBN governors who served during the tenure of the late President Umar Yar’Adua.
Better known as ‘Abacha loot,’ it is unclear how much exactly successive administrations after Abacha recovered for Nigeria from foreign countries and other locations where the stolen money was stashed.
Recall that on July 4, the House passed a resolution to probe the Abacha loot after President Muhammadu Buhari said the $322m loot recently negotiated with the Swiss Government would be shared out to the poor and the vulnerable.
The House, following a motion moved by a member from Kogi State, Mr Sunday Karimi, resolved to “set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the total Abacha loot recovered from 1998 till date; establish the sources and how the money was utilised.”
The resolution added, “Establish all agreements signed by the government to determine whether they followed due process.”
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, told The PUNCH on Sunday that after the resolution was passed, the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, set up the panel to conduct the investigation, “so that we can for once, bring all the speculation about the Abacha loot to rest.”
He explained, “The House wants to look into this Abacha loot issue thoroughly and lay the matter to rest. The mandate of the committee is to establish how much was recovered as Abacha loot. We have been hearing of loot recovery; how much is the total recovered by all the administrations since 1998?
“Also, what were the sources of the recovery? Was any part or all of the loot spent? What was it spent on and what is the total balance?
“In the course of the recovery, several cases were filed in court. How much exactly was spent on those cases and so on?
“To accomplish this task, the committee will speak with former Presidents. We will go to their residences to interact with them and not necessarily to summon them to the National Assembly.
“All relevant officials of government during the period covered by the probe will be invited to get an accurate update on loot recovery.”