MANY Nigerians have taken to the social media to express displeasure over the federal government’s proposed spending of 4.2 million pounds recovered Ibori loot on some federal projects.
Many Nigerians on Twitter say the federal government should return the stolen funds to Delta State, which it originally belongs to, rather than spend it on federal projects.
On Tuesday, Abubakar Malami, attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, had announced the imminent return of £4.2 million recovered from James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State, by the government of the United Kingdom.
During his announcement, Malami had said that about 2.2million pounds expected to arrive in Nigeria in two weeks would be spent on the Second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano Road, and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, stressing that the funds would not ne returned to Delta State government.
This announcement sparked several reactions from Nigerians who felt that rather than spend it on the mentione federal projects, it should be returned to the coffers of Delta State government.
While reacting to the announcement, Aisha Yesufu, a social commentator and activist, said the money must go to Delta State and not the federal government.
“The money belongs to the people of Delta State! They must ensure the federal government does not lay its hands on it,” Yesufu said on her Twitter handle @AishaYesufu.
Another Twitter user, who identifies as Sammy @Talk_2_Sammy, said instead of spending the fund on federal projects, it should rather be used on infrastructural development in Delta State where the money originated from.
“This is so wrong. They should have used the money to repair and construct more roads and infrastructure in Delta. The money was stolen from Delta treasury and should be used to develop Delta. It is state money and not federal money,” Sammy wrote on Twitter.
Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters and activist, also took a similar stance, saying that part of the fund should be used to subsidise exorbitant school fees paid by students of Delta State University.
“Students of higher institutions in Delta must demand that the 4.2m pounds Ibori loot being repatriated from the UK must be spent on schools in the state instead of accepting to pay exorbitant school fees like the N150k being charged at Delta State Uni. It is your money,” said Sowore.
However, some Nigerians said that Delta State government had declared that no money was missing from the state account, hence the recovered loot should not go to the state.
A user, who identifies as Moses Babatunde O @tunmmyzhe, said since a Nigerian court had held that Ibori did not launder the state fund, there was no justification for the money to be returned to Delta State government.
“But in the high court of Delta State, the same Ibori was cleared of money laundering and no government officials were ready to testify against him.
“Delta state, therefore, has no claim to the money since it has always maintained that no money was missing from its coffers,” Babatunde said.
Delta is one of the nine oil-rich states in Nigeria, situated in between Anambra and Edo.
Why recovered loot would not go to Delta state – Malami
On Tuesday evening, Malami featured on Channels Television’s Politics Today to explain why the recovered Ibori loot would not be handed over to Delta State. According to him, the looting was a national crime, and not a sub-national one.
Malami said only the federal government was involved in the recovery of the fund, and the UK and Nigeria had already ‘negotiated’ on how the money would be spent after it had been handed over.
“All the processes associated with the recovery were consummated by the federal government and the federal government is, indeed, the victim of the crime and not sub-national,” he said.
Delta State to challenge FG over recovered loot
The Delta State government has also vowed to challenge the federal government’s position that the recovered loot would not be handed over to its original source.
Ehiedu Aniagwu, Delta State commissioner for information, said this while reacting to reports that the federal government was set to expend the fund on federal projects.
“We would try to take advantage of the legal system to make the federal government correct the injustice they are about to visit on us as a state.
“If they are quite sure that the funds they are about to repatriate left Delta State on account of those who have governed the state in the past, on what basis would they now take the money to another place? Under which law? ” Aniagwu said.