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We played a limited role in the spending of Abacha loot, says World Bank

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The World Bank says it did not participate in the spending of the loot recovered from Sani Abacha, former Nigerian Head of State, returned from Switzerland between 2005 and 2006.

The bank said its role in the spending was limited as “the funds were returned directly from Switzerland to the Nigerian government”.

The bank made this clarification following a letter from Soci-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asking for details of the expenditure on the recovered loot.

A statement by Timothy Adewale, SERAP’s Deputy Director, said World Bank clarified that its role was strictly to carry out “ex-post analysis” on the expenditure.

“The funds were returned directly from Switzerland to the Nigerian government. They were programmed into the national budget and utilized by the Nigerian government in line with its National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), SERAP quoted Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, as saying on behalf of Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

“As agreed with the Nigerian and Swiss governments, the Bank’s role was limited to carrying out an ex-post analysis on their use with a particular focus on their contribution to the NEEDS World Bank.

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“The monitoring and analysis of repatriated funds was undertaken at two levels through: (1) the Bank-led analysis of general budget expenditure trends, and (2) a budget monitoring survey which was a limited field survey of sample projects funded under the budget program and randomly selected from a list of projects provided by the government.

“The budget monitoring survey was conducted by joint teams representing both government agencies and Nigerian civil society organizations. The Bank’s role in this particular case was limited by the design and different from the type of comprehensive audits we can do when funds are spent in projects supported by the Bank. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to explain the Bank’s role in this matter in the near future.”

SERAP had sought to find out how the recovered loot from Abacha was spent, necessitating the clarification by the World Bank.

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Chikezie can be reached at comeje@icirnigeria.org. Follow him on Twitter: @KezieOmeje

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