Former Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala approved the transfer of N61.4 billion ($300 million and £5.5 million) from the recovered Abacha loot to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) a few weeks to the 2015 presidential election, according to documents quoted by an online medium.
The funds were not appropriated before being transferred, an action which violates fiscal responsibility law.
The Abacha loot was returned to the government from various off shore accounts having been traced there as stashed away stolen monies.
The late dictator stole an estimated $5 billion from Nigeria and the money is being returned in tranches after agreements with countries, such as Switzerland and the United States. It is believed that not less than $700 million has been repatriated from Switzerland alone. It is not clear how much has been recovered in total.
But a letter signed by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, which the Premium Times claimed to have seen, showed that the money was allotted for “urgent security need” such as the procurement of arms and ammunition. The other half was set aside to be used for development purposes.
The letter, dated January 20, 2015, which was addressed to former President Goodluck Jonathan, revealed that the money was transferred following a January 12, 2015 request by the office of the NSA under Mr Dasuki for funds for the procurement of arms, ammunition and intelligence equipment.
“Please find a request by the National Security Adviser (NSA) for the transfer of $300 million and £5.5 million of the recovered Abacha funds to an ONSA (Office of the National Security Adviser) operations account,” the letter read.
“The NSA has explained that this is to enable the purchase of ammunition, security, and other intelligence equipment for the security agencies in order to enable them fully confront the ongoing Boko Haram threat.
“His request is sequel to the meeting you chaired with the committee on the use of recovered funds where the decision was made that recovered Abacha funds would be split 50-50 between urgent security needs to confront Boko Haram and development need (including a portion for the Future Generations window of the Sovereign Wealth Fund),” Mrs Okojo-Iweala wrote.
She added that the letter was to seek the ex-president’s approval for the funds to be disbursed to the ONSA.
The former minister explained that the money being transferred formed part of the Federal Government Independent Revenue.
She said she expected Dasuki to account directly to the President.
“This letter is to seek your approval to borrow these funds, for now, to disburse to the NSA. These funds form part of the projected Federal Government Independent Revenue, to be appropriated. In the light and for accountability, given the peculiar nature of security and intelligence transactions, we would expect the NSA to account to Your Excellency for the utilisation of the funds,” she concluded.
In a January 30, 2015 letter, President Jonathan approved the transfer.