…gives Buhari 14-day ultimatum to probe N300bn missing public funds
By Emma Okereh
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) at the weekend gave President Muhammadu Buhari 14 days to direct the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN) and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to urgently investigate allegations that over N300bn of public funds are missing, mismanaged, diverted or stolen, as documented in the 2017 report of the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF).
SERAP also asked him to “ask Malami and the anticorruption 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”.
The NGO claimed that there is entrenched system of corruption in thsse MDAs which should be cleaned up.
In the letter of 4 July, signed by SERAP’s Deputy-Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, they stated 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 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 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.
“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 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 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. The AGF recommended the return of the money to the public treasury.
“The Ministry also spent ₦72,000,030.00 to improve power supply to the Ministry but the contract for this was not captured in the 2017 appropriation.
“Despite the purported spending, power supply to the Ministry has not improved. Also, ₦7,520,000.00 was spent by 20 officials to visit 8 out-stations of the Ministry without due process and without any receipts. ₦234,622,718.00 was also spent but remained unretired or unaccounted for. The AGF recommended the full recovery of public funds.
“The Ministry also paid ₦83,719,500.00 to a company for the rehabilitation and re-integration of released Chibok girls in August, 2017 without any agreement between the Ministry and the contractor, and without any evidence of purchase of the back-to-school materials, and job completion certificate. The AGF recommended the full recovery of public funds.
“The Ministry also transferred a take-off grant of ₦83,317,257.00 for Consulate-General of Nigeria, Guangzhou to the personal account of the Ambassador of Nigeria in Rome in 2013 to be remitted to Guangzhou. But the money was never remitted to Guangzhou and has remained outstanding till date.
“The AGF expressed concern that the money may have been diverted and misappropriated, and recommended that the Ambassador of Nigeria in Rome whose account was used be asked to account for the money.
“The Ministry of Justice disbursed ₦10,460,950,841.00 judgment debt in 2017 without due process. The committee to manage the funds was dissolved after 2013 financial year was not reconstituted as at the time of the 2016 and 2017 appropriations but funds were nonetheless disbursed.
“Also, ₦32,353,693.00 was spent between March and September 2017 on international travels without approval or evidence of spending. The AGF recommended the full recovery of public funds,” they stated. Details of this news story is on www.authorityngr.com