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N106 billion missing in MDAs as SERAP writes Buhari, demands recovery

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has written President Muhammadu Buhari on need to investigate allegations that N106 billion of public funds are missing from 149 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as documented in the 2018 annual audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

It explained that the probe had been suggested in ensuring that the administration remain committed to its anti-corruption fight and ensure every funds approved for the MDAs are properly accounted for with records made public.

The group urged the president to ensure anyone suspected to be responsible was made to face appropriate prosecution and that if there was sufficient admissible evidence, and any missing public funds should be fully recovered.

In the letter dated 17 April 27, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation urged Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate the allegations

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The organisation also urged him to direct the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to create a system of public announcements to name and shame the indicted 149 MDAs, including those that reportedly failed to remit over N55 bilion of their revenue; awarded contracts of over N18 billion for services not rendered; and spent over N23 billion without any supporting documents.

According to SERAP, recovering the alleged missing public funds would reduce the pressure on the Federal Government to borrow more money to fund the budget, enable the authorities to meet the country’s human rights obligation to progressively realize Nigerians’ rights to quality health care and education, as well as reduce the growing level of public debts.

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The letter, read in part: “Investigating and prosecuting the alleged grand corruption documented by the Auditor-General 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, as well as serve the public interest.

“Any failure to promptly investigate the allegations and prosecute suspected perpetrators would breach Nigeria’s anti-corruption legislation and the country’s international anti-corruption obligations.

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.

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“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended]; anti-corruption legislation, and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption; and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

The letter was copied to Malami; Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Abdulrasheed Bawa, and chairmen of the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly.

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