Order Probe Into N300b Missing Funds, SERAP Urges Buhari

President Buhari
President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to order an investigation into allegations that more than N300 billion of public funds was missed, mismanaged, diverted or stolen, as documented in the 2017 audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF).

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) also urged the President to direct the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to urgently investigate the allegations.

SERAP asked Buhari to publish details of N800 billion recovered loot and also urged him to direct Mr. 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) indicted in the audited report.

In the letter dated 4 July 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy-director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said that “the 2017 audited report reveals grim allegations of mismanagement, diversion, and stealing of public funds, as well as unaccounted-for spending.

“The report suggests a grave violation of the public trust, and that the indicted MDAs and the National Assembly lack effective and credible internal processes to prevent and combat corruption.”

According to SERAP, “Investigating and prosecuting the alleged grand corruption documented by the AGF would improve the chances of success of your government’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption and end the impunity of perpetrators.

“It will improve the integrity of MDAs, serve the public interest, as well as improve Nigerians’ access to public services and goods.”

“Any failure to promptly investigate the allegations and prosecute suspected perpetrators would breach Nigeria’s anti-corruption legislation, including the Public Procurement Act, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and the country’s obligations, including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”

The letter also read in part: “It would also mean that Nigeria is failing to fulfil the obligations under the covenant to use its ‘maximum of available resources’ to progressively realize 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.”

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Details of the audited report

SERAP said that it carefully analysed the 2017 audited report by the AGF, adding that; “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 spent ₦25,856,279.00 on behalf of 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 a contract not executed.

“The AGF recommended the full recovery of the public funds.

“The Commission granted cash advances totalling ₦8,590,000.00 to 25 officials between February and December 2016 but failed to retire or account for the money.

“Also, ₦6,850,000.00 was paid for store items that were never supplied. “Another ₦2,619,210.00 was spent without receipts.

“The AGF expressed concern that the money may have been misappropriated or stolen and recommended the full recovery of public funds.

“The former Chairman of the Commission, whose tenure of office ended in May 2017, took away with him four vehicles (One Toyota Hilux, one 407 Classic Peugeot, One Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep and One Toyota Corolla) belonging to the Commission, despite the Monetization Policy of Government clearly stating that all vehicles of MDAs belong to the pool, and are not expected to be taken away as part of severance package at the expiration of an officer’s appointment.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed to show any receipts for the payment of ₦4,385,230,763.25 between January and December 2016.

“The Ministry also had no insurance cover for all its motor-vehicles, despite the budgetary allocation of ₦11,805,802.00 for insurance premium.

“The Ministry spent ₦105,000,000.00 to buy computer consumables, photocopy machine consumables, papers and other store items, contrary to official circular, and without any receipts.

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“The AGF recommended the return of the money to the public treasury.”