SERAP Gives Buhari 14 Days to Probe N300bn Missing Public Funds

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By Udora Orizu

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given President Muhammadu Buhari 14 days to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to urgently investigate the allegations that more than N300 billion of public funds were missing, mismanaged, diverted or stolen, as documented in the 2017 audited report by the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF).

The SERAP also urged President Buhari to ask Malami and the anti-corruption agencies to promptly investigate the extent and patterns of widespread and endemic corruption in the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as indicted in the audited report.

A letter dated July 4, 2020, and signed by the Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, said that the 2017 audited report revealed grim allegations of mismanagement, diversion and stealing of public funds as well as unaccounted spending.

The letter was copied to Malami; the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye; the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.

The SERAP said that investigating and prosecuting the alleged grand corruption would enhance Buhari’s commitment to the fight against corruption and checkmate impunity.

It also said that failure to promptly investigate the allegations and prosecute suspected perpetrators would breach Nigeria’s anti-corruption legislations and warrant the SERAP to institute legal proceedings that would compel the federal government to act in the public interest.

The letter reads in part: “It would also mean that Nigeria is failing to fulfill the obligations under the covenant to use its ‘maximum of available resources’ to progressively realise and achieve basic economic and social rights, including access of Nigerians to public services and goods like quality education, healthcare, clean water and regular electricity supply, as well as the right to honest public services.

“The SERAP has carefully analysed the 2017 audited report by the AGF and our analysis reveals the following grim allegations of mismanagement, diversion and stealing of public funds as well as unaccounted-for spending.

“The Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) spent ₦25,856,279.00 on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop online recruitment in April 2014 without any supporting memo from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and without due process. Although the project was suspended, the commission went ahead and paid ₦25,856,279.00 for contract not executed. The AGF recommended the full recovery of the public funds.”