Falana: General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) has case to answer on $12.4b Gulf War oil windfall

Monday, April 12, 2010

By Femi Falana
Contrary to his denial, former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida has a case to answer over the $12.4 billion Gulf War oil windfall, the rights community insisted yesterday.

In a statement in Lagos by former West African Bar Association (WABA) president Femi Falana, the rights groups said Gen. Babangida’s claim of not being indicted over the mismanagement of the fund flies in the face of the Pius Okigbo panel report.

Quoting parts of the report, Falana said: "The approved budget for the federation did not reflect the receipts into the dedicated and other special accounts.

"The balances kept in these accounts were not included in the Federation Account, a practice which violated the fundamental precepts of the federal fiscal relation in Nigeria, and in a number of cases, there were significant variations between the amounts approved for payment and the actual disbursements made, without any further explanation from the documents supplied.

"In a large number of cases, there were no indications in the letters written to the Head of State seeking approval to make payments or seeking exchange – either dedication, sale of mining rights, signature bonus or stabilization accounts.

"The funds accruing to these accounts had been applied mainly to payments for services of contractors, and for the purchase of military equipment and services. The gross takings on these accounts from their inception in 1988 to June 1994 totaled $12.4billion. These had been held totally outside the country s external reserves.

"Indeed, if the funds had been counted as part of the external reserves and had been held as such, the impact on the exchange rate in the years under review would have been so significant that the Naira would have been stronger in 1994, in relation to the dollar, than it was in 1985 when it stood at N1 to $1.004.

"It should be evident, therefore, that the burden of external debt to the Paris and London Clubs and the pressure on the exchange rate would have been substantially mitigated if not completely eliminated. It is this fact that calls to question the wisdom and prudence not in the creation of these accounts but in its disbursements."

From the report, there is no single reference to back Babangida’s claim that the funds were spent to develop the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja," Falana said.

He noted: "In fact, the funds for Abuja were contained in the Federation Account.

"Therefore, it is clear that no indictment can be greater than the above direct conclusions and quotations from the report. The point is that Nigerians deserve explanations as to what exactly happened to the accrued oil revenue of $12.4bn which apparently went missing during the Babangida government.
"And anyone who loves this country would expect accountability for the missing funds. No amount of misinformation or misrepresentation of the facts and conclusions of the Okigbo report by anyone can stop the demand by Nigerians for accountability in this matter," Falana added.

Source: The Nation (Nigeria)

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