Some lawyers in Lagos State on Saturday called for transparency in the utilisation of security vote by top political office holders to forestall abuse of the process.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the process could only be sustained if public funds in trust were diligently utilised.
NAN reports that security vote is the practice of appropriating funds with the aim of enhancing national security.
Specifically, security vote is the catch-all line item inserted in the budget to give recipients the flexibility to cover ad hoc security expenditures.
The President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), said, “There are many issues and controversies around the management of security vote.
“I think the more control and transparency in the system, the better.
“Having served in government previously myself, I think there are justifications for having security vote, but the vote ought to be managed properly and there is need to have a framework for accountability.
“Security vote is an issue which the state governors should handle in a manner that sustains public confidence,’’ Mahmoud said.
Also, the President, Lagos Court of Arbitration, Mr Yemi Candide-Johnson (SAN), said that there should be transparency and accountability in the system.
Candide-Johnson said, “All public funds are used on trust and they must be subjected to accounting; security is not sorcery.
“It is the execution of a planned response to a range of anticipated dangers.
“This can be budgeted and subjected to oversight and accountability.
“The problem we have is that security vote in our context is a personal and political slush fund for discretionary misspending.
“We should know how much is being spent,’’ Candide-Johnson said.
He said that such accounting required more confidential oversight; in some instances, the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives or Senate and an independent oversight agency should do a review.
In his remarks, a Social Critic, Mr Spurgeon Ataene, said, “transparency is key to dealings in security vote.
“Security vote has been in existence for a purpose, but the most important is that the executive arm of government should not be ridiculed.
“The abuse of the provisions of security vote is what elicits condemnation and controversies among the citizenry,’’ he said.
Ataene said that there should be transparency in the use of such vote.
He said that any unutilised fund should be used for the common good of all or returned and be appropriated in the next fiscal year.