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Groups oppose withdrawal of Abacha corruption probe

24 June 2014, 17:57

Abuja - A coalition of civil society groups has condemned the federal government’s withdrawal of corruption charge filed against Mohammed Abacha, the son of former Head of State, Sanni Abacha.

Government had accused Mohammed Abacha of receiving stolen property worth more than N100 billion, an amount believed to have been stolen by the late Head of State during his tenure from 1993 to 1998.

He was subsequently charged to court on several counts for the offence by the President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration.

The group lamented that the withdrawal of the case by present administration raising further concerns about its commitments to the fight against corruption.

The coalition which include, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Centre for the Development of Civil Society (CDCS), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), National Procurement Watch Platform (NPWP), West African Civil Society Forum (WASCOF), Zero-Corruption Coalition (ZCC), Tax Justice and Governance Platform Nigeria and the Women Advocate Research & Documentation Centre (WARDC), equally recalled that the Jonathan administration has also pardoned the former Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was indicted for looting and stealing of public funds.

“The civil society is not happy with the ways and manners this administration is perpetuating immorality, impunity and lack of transparency, which puts a question mark on the sincerity of the administration in battling corruption. This is all the more so because Mohammed Abacha’s case on corrupt enrichment and money laundering is still on-going,” the coalition said in a statement.

The group further expressed its displeasure over what it described as national embarrassment that President Jonathan’s action depicts, noting that it also shook the moral foundation of the Presidency as well as portends grave implications for the myriads of corruption cases in the country.

“Indeed, it has the potential to de-motivate Nigeria’s anti-corruption institutions – i.e. Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) – to effectively deliver on their mandate of fighting corruption. The action also sends a wrong signal that perpetrators of such crimes are likely to get away with fraudulent acquired public funds, while further re-entrenching corruption such that will become an obstacle to national development and improvement in the lives of citizens.”

The statement further urged the Presidency to immediately direct the judiciary to continue with the case against Mohammed Abacha with the view to recovering the alleged stolen money.

“We in the civil society are convinced that the focus of the whole dropping of charges is mainly because the ruling party is now trying by all means to favour those corrupt people who are decamping to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from other political parties," the group said.

They equally urged the present administration to strengthen and re-strategize its international campaign to press Liechtenstein into returning $185 million (38.85 billion) of alleged ill-gotten gains linked to the late Abacha, which it said was still being held in the tiny principality nearly 16 years after recovery proceeding began.

– CAJ News

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