A professor of Political Science, Femi Otubanjo, on Saturday slammed the Federal Government for unilaterally deciding on what to do with the repatriated $311m stolen by the late military Head of State, Gen Sani Abacha.
According to him, taking the decision alone is an abuse of federalism.
The Federal Government on May 4 confirmed receiving the money from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, had argued that the money ought to be shared and not kept in the Federation Account by the Federal Government.
Beyond Falana’s argument, Otubanjo said by having the sole responsibility of dealing with other nations directly, the Federal Government ought to have known that it was acting on behalf of all the tiers of government.
He said, “The money was returned to Nigeria, it is Nigeria’s money and not exclusively for the Federal Government. The Federal Government is solely in charge of foreign relations and this pursuit of stolen money falls within that purview.
“The fact that people are paying money to the Federal Government does not mean that it belongs to them. All the monies that are paid to Nigeria are paid through the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“Unfortunately that is what is happening to the Abacha loot. Everybody is folding their hands because it was the Federal Government that pursued it. The late military dictator stole the money from the Federation Account.
“Note that in the pursuit of that money, there is no role for the states and local government areas because the Federal Government is solely responsible for foreign relations. It is just like saying that the states and local government should come and be part of the sale of crude oil.
“The taking away of the rights of other components is an abuse on federalism. It was the same thing we saw with the effect of the lockdown. It is again part of the abuse of federalism.”
However, the Executive Director of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, said if the money had been earmarked for capital projects it would be to the benefits of all Nigerians.
He, therefore, advised the Federal Government to get approval from the National Assembly before spending the money.