…Launches Cleen Foundation Website
The Federal Government of Nigeria in collaboration with Cleen Foundation have launched the CLEEN Foundation’s website (https://assetmonitoring.org) to ensure transparency and accountability towards 2020 Tripartite Agreement to engage general public on implementation and asset monitoring of public officers’ loots. The event took place on Thursday, 29th September, 2022 in Abuja.
In his opening remarks, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (HAGF) Abubakar Malami SAN disclosed that, the Website was undertaken in collaboration with CLEEN Foundation, the Civil Society Organization (CSO) who is responsible for the monitoring of the implementation of the 2020 Tripartite Agreement signed among Federal Republic of Nigeria, United States of America and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
“As you are aware, since 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari laid out a strategy for the return of stolen assets embezzled by public officials and hidden in several jurisdictions during the UK Summit on anti-corruption. He further requested the heads of states of developed countries to work with the government of Nigeria to trace, recover and return these assets back to Nigeria for the development of infrastructures for Nigerians”. He explained.
He explained further that, the President’s clarion call and the global engagement by the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ) led to the signing of an Asset Return Agreement with Switzerland and the World Bank for the return of $322 Million USD in 2017.
According to the Hon Minister, the funds were utilized for the National Cash Transfer Office Program paid to poor households under the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on National Socio-Investment which is now subsumed under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. To ensure transparency, the World Bank was made to provide additional oversight over the use of the funds.
“In 2020 the Federal Republic of Nigeria recorded another success with the execution of another Asset Return Agreement with the United States of America and the Bailiwick of Jersey for the return of over $311 Million
USD which was channelled to the Presidential Development Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) projects namely; the Lagos Ibadan Express Way, Abuja-Kano Road and the Second Niger Bridge under the management of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA)” he added.
He explained that the agreement signed among the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the USA and the Bailiwick of Jersey recognised the need to have a non-state actor as a monitor and therefore jointly approved the recruitment of the monitoring Civil Society Organisation (CSO) namely the CLEEN FOUNDATION in line with the Global Forum Asset Recovery (GFAR) principles on transparency. The CSO was selected out of competitive public procurement process which the Parties to the Agreement reviewed 19 bids that were submitted for the recruitment of a monitor.
He said that the framework for the use of the funds was based on the following criteria: judgement of foreign jurisdiction; mutual legal assistance requests; multilateral engagements guided by international cooperation under UN Convention against Corruption. “It is against this background that I wish to reiterate this government’s commitment to the goal of using the assets recovered judiciously for the benefit of all Nigerians”.
The HAGF expressed satisfaction on the progress made so far in the recovery of stolen assets and also commended CSO for monitoring and engaging very actively with various stakeholders also submitting their quarterly reports as required under the 2020 Agreement.
“The public engagement today is one of their efforts to interact with the public and create awareness through the establishment of this public website (https://assetmonitoring.org) where relevant information on the project will be uploaded “he informed.
In her welcome address, the Solicitor General of the Federation (SGF) / Permanent Secretary. Federal Ministry of Justice Mrs Beatrice Jedy-Agba OON, mni represented by the Special Adviser on Justice Reform and International Relations, Mrs Juliet Ibekaku, said the public engagement session was in line with the 2020 Tripartite Agreement under which the FMOJ, NSIA, MONITORING CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION and CLEEN Foundation are expected to carry out various obligations in the utilization of the recovered assets.
Beatrice applauded the international partners and the governments of Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America, Bailiwick of Jersey and Ireland who had worked assiduously in ensuring the repatriation of recovered assets to Nigeria.
The Managing Director, National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) Mr Uche Orji, the implementing Authority in his briefing said, the completion of the 2nd Niger Bridge had reached 94% and would be completed by November, 2022 while Lagos –Ibadan Express Way and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Express Way are on progress and would be ready very soon.
The Representative of UNODC, Oliver Stolpe and British High Commission appreciated Federal Government of Nigeria for its consistence in recovery the loots and also utilised it for the betterment of Nigeria. They assure the federal government of their continuous support.
The representative of the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Bello Muhammed, the authority in charge of the funds, pledge to ensure transparency and accountability of the project.