An independent report by the Monitoring Transparency and Accountability in the Management of Returned Assets (MANTRA) yesterday disclosed that N23.7 billion of the recovered $322.5 million Abacha loot had been disbursed to better the poorest households in the country.
According to the document, 703,506 vulnerable homes of the enrolled 834,948 figure on the National Social Register as at December 31,2019 received ₦23,742,580,000 from the funds returned from Switzerland under the Conditional Cash Transfer of the Social Investment Programme (SIP).
The data exclude the Federal Government’s COVID 19 palliatives for January to April this year.
Reverend David Ugolor, Executive Director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) – the leading civil society organisation (CSO) monitoring the disbursements nationwide – made the disclosure at a press conference/virtual meeting in Benin City, Edo State, adding that the MANTRA’s one-year field monitoring report covered October 2018 to December 2019.
Ugolor, who is the Head of the MANTRA project funded by the Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (ACORN) programme of DFID/UKAid, added that monitors were able to reach 73,998 beneficiaries located in 4,540 communities, traced to 97 council areas in 20 states and captured in the database of the National Social Safety-Net Coordination Office (NASSCO).
He noted that the figure was an improvement over the 30,846 tallies in the first monitoring report where 11 states were covered, adding that they had also hired an audit firm for the upstream (Central Bank of Nigeria and National Cash Transfer Office) and midstream (payment operators) monitoring.”
His words: “Our mission is to ensure transparent and judicious use of the recovered Abacha loot in line with its stated purpose to ensure the money is not re-looted.”
On the findings of the field team, Ugolor stated: “Of the recovered $322.5 million, about N24,658,072,000 was disbursed by the NCTO to private service operators as at December 31,2019 out of which N23,742,580,000 went to the beneficiaries.”
“We also found out that only 72.5 per cent of the agreed 80 per cent was part of the Abacha loot in the funds disbursed to the beneficiaries during the period under review,” he added.
The activist pointed out that 43 per cent of the recipients laid complaints, including “request for increase in base stipend; third party deductions; ID card-related challenges; delayed payments; irregular or late payments; tedious payment processes, and distance to payment points.
olor stated that 22 per cent of the grievances were resolved, urging improvement of the scheme.