Alleged N1.5tn Fraud: CSO Slams 16 Suits against Govt Agencies

0

Alex Enumah in Abuja

A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), yesterday 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.

Lead Director of the Centre, 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 in Abuja, include that against the director-general of 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) realised in 2015 and 2016; a freedom of information and public finance management suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/369/2020 against the director-general of Centre for Management Development (CMD) over non-remittance of N59,274,180.66, being 25 per cent of the IGR realised in 2016; suit against the director-general of National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) over non-remittance of N135,200,215.84; suit brought against the director-general of Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) over allegation of non-remittance of N14,720,396,432.43 and that against the director-general of 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 as contained in page 122 of the Auditor-General’s Annual Report on the Accounts of the Federation of Nigeria for the year 2017.

Onyekpere, who assured Nigerians that the Centre was ready to follow the suits to logical conclusions to serve as deterrent to other government agencies culpable of fraud and dishonesty in the utilisation 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, therefore, 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 utilisation of public funds.