By Alex Enumah
A civil society organisation (CSO), the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), on Tuesday disclosed that it has instituted no less than 16 different court cases against some federal government agencies over alleged embezzlement of public funds to the tune of N1.5 trillion.
The Lead Director of the centre, Mr Eze Onyekpere, who made the disclosure to journalists at a virtual media briefing, said the court actions were instituted on accounts of the centre’s stand against corruption and the need to recover the alleged looted funds to support developmental projects in the country.
Onyekpere lamented that while Nigeria suffers under huge foreign loan burden, revenues which ought to be deployed towards financing annual budgets and other key projects are allegedly embezzled by government agencies.
To stop further embezzlement of public funds by public officers, the lead director said the centre has resolved to make public its litigation docket as a way of exposing the degree of corruption going on in the country.
Some of the cases, which according to him are in different stages in the Federal High Court, Abuja, include the one against the Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over alleged non-remittance of N2,297,199,080.00, representing 25 per cent of the internally generated revenue (IGR) realized in 2015 and 2016; a freedom of information and public finance management suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/369/2020, against the Director General, Centre for Management Development (CMD), over the non-remittance of N59,274,180.66, being 25 per cent of the IGR realized in 2016; suit against the Director General, National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), over the non-remittance of N135,200,215.84; suit brought against the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), over the allegation of non-remittance of N14,720,396,432.43 and that against the Director General, National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), for alleged failure to remit the sum of N18,575,455.48 for Value Added Tax (VAT) and N19,493,613.72 Withholding Tax (WHT) deducted from payments made to contractors in respect of supply of goods and services and as contained in page 122 of the Auditor-General’s Annual Report on the Accounts of the Federation of Nigeria for 2017.
Onyekpere, who assured Nigerians that the centre was ready to follow the suits to logical conclusion to serve as deterrent to other government agencies culpable of fraud and dishonesty in the utilization of public funds, however lamented that whenever any of the defaulting government agencies is dragged to court over embezzlement of public funds, some notable lawyers are hired with same public funds for self defence.
He used the occasion to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to call heads of different government agencies to order over alleged lack of accountability and transparency in the utilization of public funds.