The House of Representatives has waded into the controversy over the Federal Government’s decision to use the recovered loot by former Delta State governor, James Ibori for the execution of projects outside the state.
Following last Tuesday’s agreement between the United Kingdom and the Nigerian government to return the £4.2 million (about N2.2 billion) confiscated from the former governor in 2012, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the Executive Council of the Federation (FEC) had directed that the repatriated funds should be deployed towards the completion of some legacy projects across the country.
Malami listed the projects all located outside Delta State to include the Second Niger Bridge, Abuja–Kano expressway and the Lagos–Ibadan expressway.
He said the execution of the projects would be coordinated by the Nigeria Social Investment Authority (NSIA) to ensure integrity of the process, with some civil society groups engaged to monitor and supervise the expenditure on the projects.
The use of the loot, Malami said, was in line with the existing framework in the management of previous recoveries, including the Abacha loot.
However, the Delta State government and civil society groups have faulted the government’s decision, saying using recovered funds stolen from Delta State to execute projects outside the state constitutes an injustice to the people of the State.
But, the House of Representatives on Wednesday said it has resolved to investigate the details and ownership of the funds recovered by the British government from Ibori, even as some groups in the State are claiming the money could have been as much as £6.2million.
Minority Leader in the House, Ndudi Elumelu, an indigene of Delta State, along with others, in a motion of urgent public importance said information available to him showed the fund was not £4.2million as claimed by the federal government, but about £6.2million.
Elumelu said funds recovered as proceeds of corruption from other states were returned to those state governments in the past, citing the examples of Abia Bayelsa and Plateau States.
“The said recovered funds belong to the good people of Delta state, as such ought to be refunded to Delta State government for the development of the state.
“If the Federal Government is allowed to appropriate the funds without recourse to Delta State government, the people of the state will be short-changed of their resources to improve on the economy of the state as well as provide the requisite infrastructural development for their state,” Elumelu said.
“Information available to Delta State government is that the money is £6.2 million, not £4.2million. The federal government should ensure that a total of £6.2 million is returned to the state.”
In upholding the motion, the House resolved to urge the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, to stop forthwith further appropriation and disbursement of £6.2million pending the final determination by the House.
The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Attorney General’s office to furnish the House with all particulars relating to the recovered money from the UK government.