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SERAP writes Buhari, seeks probe of ‘N39.5bn duplicated and mysterious projects’


Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), and members of the National Assembly suspected to be responsible for inserting N39.5bn for apparently 316 duplicated and mysterious projects in the 2021 budget.”

SERAP said: “Any such investigation should establish whether public funds have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen in the guise of implementing the duplicated and mysterious projects. Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any stolen public funds should be fully recovered.”

In the letter dated 8 May 2021, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The misallocation of public funds for duplicated and mysterious projects has seriously undermined the ability of the indicted MDAs, and the government to ensure respect for Nigerians’ human rights through developing and implementing well-thought-out policies, plans, and budgets.”

SERAP also said: “We are concerned that the N39.5bn duplicated and mysterious projects may have been used as a ploy to divert and steal vital resources from MDAs. Budget allocations and expenditure ought to be well-suited to ensure access of Nigerians to basic public services, and responsive to the people’s needs in order to prevent corruption or unnecessary or wasteful spending.”

The letter, read in part: “BudgIT had in a report last week stated that there are 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5 billion in the 2021 budget. The duplicated and mysterious projects are contained in the 2021 appropriation bill of N13.588 trillion signed into law in December 2020.”

“These damning revelations suggest a grave violation of the public trust, and Nigerians’ rights to education, health, water, sanitation, and clean and satisfactory environment because the indicted MDAs have misallocated public funds at the expense of the people’s access to basic public services, and enjoyment of rights.”

“SERAP urges you to ask the heads of the MDAs involved to explain why they allegedly failed to ensure strict compliance with constitutional and international standards of transparency and accountability in the preparation, processes and decisions on their budgets, and to return any misallocated public funds to the public treasury.”

“Investigating and prosecuting any allegations of mismanagement, diversion and stealing of public funds budgeted for the 316 duplicated and mysterious projects would allow your government to use the budget to effectively promote Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services.”

“It would also enable your government to meet Nigeria’s human rights obligations in the way the MDAs under your leadership and supervision allocate, spend and audit the budget.”

“Publishing the ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects would allow Nigerians to hold their government to account in the spending of public funds. This is particularly true for marginalized and excluded groups, such as people living in poverty, women, children, and persons with disabilities, as the budget has a disproportionate impact on their welfare.”

“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.”

“The revelations also suggest that the indicted MDAs lack transparent, accountable, effective and credible budgeting processes to prevent and combat corruption. SERAP is concerned that the Federal Government has not complied with Nigeria’s obligations under international human rights law.”

“SERAP notes that the budget is government’s most important economic policy document. A carefully and transparently developed, implemented and evaluated budget is central to ensuring access of Nigerians to essential public goods and services, and to the effective realization of all human rights.”

“SERAP also urges you to direct Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning to publish full details of current ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects, and any spending on the projects to dated, including the 115 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Health; the 23 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Education, and 10 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Water Resources.

“The following ministries are reportedly involved in the duplicated and mysterious projects: Ministry of Health with 115 projects; Ministry of Information and Culture with 40 projects; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with 25 projects; Ministry of Education with 23 projects; Ministry of Transportation with 17 projects; and Ministry of Science and Technology with 17 projects.”

“Others are the Ministry of Environment with 13 projects; Ministry of Power with 11 projects; Ministry of Labour and Employment with 11 projects, and Ministry of Water Resources with 10 projects.”

“According to our information, the security sector received N10.02tn between 2015 and 2021 but without details about how the money has been spent. A total of 117 federal agencies received allocations in the 2021 budget for “security votes” worth N24.3 billion.”

The letter was copied to Mr Malami; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); and Mrs Ahmed.

Kolawole Oluwadare
SERAP Deputy Director
9/5/2021
Lagos, Nigeria
Emails: info@serap-nigeria.org; news@serap-nigeria.org
Twitter: @SERAPNigeria
Website: www.serap-nigeria.org
For more information or to request an interview, please contact us on: +2348160537202

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SERAP writes Buhari, seeks trial of high-profile corruption cases, details of missing files

 

 

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting him to “instruct Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation to take immediate steps to expeditiously, diligently, effectively and fairly prosecute high-profile corruption cases, and to publish details of the whereabouts of allegedly missing case files, as well as the status of prosecution of all the cases being handled by his office.”

 

The organization said: “The high-profile corruption cases include 103 cases reportedly sent by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] in 2017, and the 15 allegedly missing case files sent by the now defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, [SPIP] in 2019 to Mr Malami.”

 

In the letter dated 26 September, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The authorities’ failure to diligently and expeditiously prosecute high profile corruption cases amounts to a fundamental breach of constitutional and international obligations. Continuing failure to prosecute these cases may create the perception of a deliberate effort to protect those considered to be very influential and powerful.”

 

According to the organization: “The fact that these cases have been pending for several years suggests that your government has not carried out its public, constitutional and international obligations, including the obligations to show that no one is above the law as far as the fight against corruption is concerned.”

 

The organization said: “Public interest demands that high-profile corruption cases are concluded within a reasonable time so that those guilty are punished and the innocent are set free. The rule of law and the preservation of democracy also require that the authorities duly proceed in accordance with the law against every high-profile person suspected of grand corruption, irrespective of where he/she is placed in the political hierarchy.”

 

The letter, copied to Mr Malami, read in part: “SERAP is seriously concerned about the apparent inertia by the authorities to diligently and expeditiously prosecute high-profile corruption cases. While many of these cases have been dragging before your assumption of office in May 2015, several of the cases have not satisfactorily progressed, contrary to Nigerians’ expectations.”

 

“Speedily, diligently, effectively and fairly prosecuting high-profile corruption cases would demonstrate your government’s commitment to enhance probity in public life and willingness to enforce accountability in public life. The basic postulate of the concept of equality: ‘Be you ever so high, the law is above you’, should be your government’s approach to high profile corruption cases.”

 

“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] particularly section 15[5], and Nigeria’s international obligations, including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, as well as the rule of law.”

 

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in acting to ensure the diligent, expeditious and effective prosecution of longstanding high-profile corruption cases, including the 103 cases and the allegedly missing 15 case files of high-profile corruption suspects.”

 

“We would be grateful if your government begins to implement the recommended action and measures within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.”

 

“If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to pursue prosecution of these longstanding high-profile corruption cases to their logical conclusion, and to regularly report to Nigerians on the progress of prosecution.”

 

“People get frustrated in the system if the process of justice is not allowed to take its normal course, more so, when apparently deliberate attempts are made to subvert and delay the process.”

 

“There is a nexus between corruption at high places in public life and threats to the integrity, welfare, security and economy of the country, as well as the rule of law. There is therefore a clear need for an expeditious, diligent and effective prosecution of these cases, which have already been delayed for several years.”

 

“Expeditious prosecution of those suspected of grand corruption irrespective of the position and status of that person is imperative to retain public confidence in the ability and willingness of authorities to prevent and combat corruption.”

 

“According to our information, details of about 103 high-profile corruption cases being handled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] were reportedly made available in 2017 to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice upon request.”

 

“Further, the case files of 15 high-profile corruption suspects are allegedly missing. The missing files are among the 23 cases reportedly sent by the now defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, [SPIP] in 2019 to Mr Malami, and include some charges of fraud involving some former governors and senators, as well as non-declaration of assets and possession of foreign accounts cases.”

 

SERAP therefore urged President Buhari to instruct Mr Malami to:

 

  1. Explain why after several years these high-profile corruption cases have not been expeditiously, diligently, effectively and satisfactorily prosecuted to logical conclusion;
  2. Take immediate and concrete steps to prosecute the cases in close cooperation and collaboration with appropriate anti-corruption agencies;
  3. Publish details of the whereabouts of the allegedly missing 15 case files of high-profile individuals suspected of corruption, including the status of prosecution of the cases, as well as those of the 103 cases reportedly sent to Mr Malami;
  4. Invite civil society groups and international community to monitor the prosecution of high-profile corruption cases, and to periodically report to Nigerians the status of their prosecution

 

 

“By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011, and article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on the details of the whereabouts of allegedly missing 15 case files of high-profile individuals suspected of grand corruption, and the status of prosecution of the cases, as well as those of the 103 cases reportedly sent to Mr Malami.”

 

 

 

 

Kolawole Oluwadare

SERAP Deputy Director

27/09/2020

Lagos, Nigeria

Emails: info@serap-nigeria.orgnews@serap-nigeria.org

Twitter: @SERAPNigeria

Website: www.serap-nigeria.org

For more information or to request an interview, please contact Kolawole Oluwadare on: +2348160537202

 

Desmond Elliot lauded over Street lights in Alaka

Lagos lawmaker, Hon Desmond Olushola Elliot, has been commended for cherishing the mood of the people, feeling the grinding poverty in the country and devising innovative ways of tackling it in Surulere Constituency 1.

The commendation came from some notable leaders in Lagos State.

In a release signed by the Chairman of Lagos Political, Community and Religious Leaders Forum (SPCRF), Mr. Taiwo Alao, the leaders described the member representing Surulere Constituency 1 in the Lagos State House of Assembly as a responsive legislator.

They expressed gratitude to the lawmaker for his dynamic pursuit of the welfare of the good people of Surulere Constituency 1,

On Sunday, scores of areas had started brightening up in Alaka and residents especially politicians, religious and community leaders have openly expressed their joy at seeing the street lights donated by the Lagos lawmaker.

Specifically, the leader gave Desmond Elliot a pat on the back for a job well done.

The Forum pledged to continue committing the lawmaker to the Almighty God in its prayer to grant him wisdom, forbearance and understanding in all his efforts to make life worth living for the masses’’

The leaders pleaded with Lagosians to give the lawmaker the maximum possible support.

Niger Delta youths back Akpabio, NDDC Interim Management Committee, warn detractors

Youths in the Niger Delta region on Tuesday extolled the sterling qualities of the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio, describing him as a man of honour.

Besides, the youths, under the aegis of Niger Delta Youth Movement (NDYM) praised the National Assembly for working with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs towards the realization of its objectives.

At a gathering in Calabar, the youths expressed delight and satisfaction with the high degree of determination so far exhibited by Senator Akpabio to move the Niger Delta region forward.

‘Senator Godswill Akpabio is a shining example, a model to all of us, of what service is all about. He has so far demonstrated an admirable commitment to doing everything possible to develop the Niger Delta region’’ the youths said.

Addressing newsmen after their one day conference in Cross River State, Secretary General of NDYM, Dr. Raymond Umanah said the youths praised Akpabio for embracing the challenge of developing the region with a missionary zeal, restructuring the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and reintroducing public accountability for the use of public resources.

‘’Senator Godswill Akpabio, a man of great organizational ability, has continued to carry himself with grace and dignity without compromising his integrity’’

The youths commended the growing unity and understanding among stakeholders in the region.

The youths emphasized national development, patriotism, transparency and accountability.

The youths also praised the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs for tackling impediments in the way of improving development in the region, pulling the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) back from the state of retrogression and giving the region the desired sense of purpose and direction.

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SERAP writes Buhari, warns ‘proposed bill will render EFCC a toothless bulldog’

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to “urgently instruct Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation to withdraw the proposed executive bill to amend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] Act, which if passed and signed into law will severely undermine the commission’s independence, and render it a ‘toothless bulldog or toothless tiger’.”

 

The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption headed by Professor Itse Sagay had last week reportedly raised concerns that “the government is pushing a bill to amend the EFCC Act, 2004, which will demolish the anti-corruption infrastructure of Nigeria, and confer an enormous power of control of the anti-graft agency on the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.”

 

In the letter dated 19 September 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The bill, which is apparently designed to undermine the independence, integrity and freedom of action of anti-corruption agencies, ignores the seriousness of grand corruption and its impact on Nigerians’ human rights, the rule of law, principles of good governance, development, as well as the threat corruption poses to the country’s constitutional order.”

 

According to SERAP: “By pushing to turn the EFCC into a department in the Federal Ministry of Justice, and effectively bring it under the control of the Attorney General; and to subject the appointment of the agency’s head to the approval of the Directorate of State Security, your government would seem to indicate that it is not interested in combating corruption and halting its putrefying effects.”

 

The letter, read in part: “We would be grateful if the requested action and measures are taken by your government. Should the proposed bill be passed and signed into law, SERAP would take all appropriate legal actions to challenge its legality, in the public interest, and to ensure that anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria can operate independently and effectively.”

 

“SERAP contends that Nigeria’s constitutional and international legal obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of everyone inevitably create a duty on your government to establish independent and efficient anti-corruption mechanisms.”

 

“This bill is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international anti-corruption 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.”

 

“SERAP notes that corruption threatens the injunction that government must be accountable, responsive and open; that public administration must not only be held to account but must also be governed by high standards of ethics, efficiency and must use public resources in an economic and effective manner.”

 

“Under the proposed bill, the limited independence that the EFCC enjoys will be substantially undermined, as the commission will now effectively become a body of the executive government, thus creating heightened risk of political interference in the work of the commission.”

 

“The government would seem to be secretly pushing the proposed bill to amend the EFCC Act, as there is no public consultation or public hearing regarding the contents of the bill.”

 

“Specifically, section 15 subsection (5) of the Constitution requires your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.”

 

“Similarly, articles 6 and 36 of the UN Convention against Corruption require your government to ensure the existence of an anti-corruption body specialised in preventing corruption and combating corruption through law enforcement which must be granted the necessary independence and be able to carry out its functions effectively and without any undue influence.”

 

“Further, articles 3 and 5 of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption require your government to respect human rights, the rule of law, and promote social justice, as well as establish, maintain and strengthen independent national anti-corruption authorities or agencies.”

 

“SERAP is gravely concerned that the proposed bill by your government will endanger the commission’s independence and integrity, as well as seriously undermine its ability to effectively prevent, investigate and prosecute cases of grand corruption and economic crimes.”

 

“The repressive Companies and Allied Matters Act [CAMA] 2020 was rushed through the National Assembly and passed apparently without any public consultation or public hearing. This secretive approach to passing and signing legislation is antithetical to any basic notion of the rule of law and democratic governance.”

 

“According to Professor Itse Sagay-led Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, your government is reportedly pushing a bill to amend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] Act, 2004.”

 

“The committee has stated that ‘the Executive Chairman of the EFCC will be replaced with a Director-General who is effectively to be appointed by the Attorney-General.”

 

“‘Section 11 of this proposed bill provides that nobody may be appointed or seconded to the new Agency being proposed, unless he is first screened by the Directorate of State Security and approved by the said Agency. Under the proposed Act the Annual Report of the EFCC is not to be submitted to the National Assembly until it has been passed through the Attorney-General for onward transmission to the National Assembly.’”

 

SERAP therefore urged President Buhari to:

 

  1. Urgently instruct Mr Malami to withdraw the proposed bill in the public interest, and to publicly commit to upholding the independence, integrity and effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies in the country, including the EFCC;
  2. Publicly uphold constitutional and international standards on the independence, integrity and effectiveness of anticorruption agencies, including the EFCC;
  3. Take meaningful and effective measures to promote and strengthen the independence and effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies in the country, and ensure that they are free from any undue influence;
  4. Ensure that heads of anti-corruption agencies are appointed through a process that ensures their apolitical stance, impartiality, neutrality, integrity and competence

 

 

 

Kolawole Oluwadare

SERAP Deputy Director

20/09/2020

Lagos, Nigeria

Emails: info@serap-nigeria.orgnews@serap-nigeria.org

Twitter: @SERAPNigeria

Website: www.serap-nigeria.org

For more information or to request an interview, please contact Kolawole Oluwadare on: +2348160537202

 

PRESS STATEMENT

SPN CALLS ON NLC AND TUC TO HARMONIZE THEIR MOBILIZATION AND STRIKES OVER THE STRUGGLE TO REVERSE PETROL PRICE AND ELECTRICITY TARIFF HIKE

SPN ADVOCATES SUSTAINED WARNING GENERAL STRIKES AND MASS PROTESTS

Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) reiterates its condemnation to the recent hikes in petrol price and electricity tariff; the increase in petrol has seen price move up from N148 per litre to N162 per litre while electricity tariff has been increased by over 100%.

The Central Working Committee (CWC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have issued two different ultimatums to the government that could lead to indefinite strike actions and mass protest. The TUC had earlier had their NEC meeting and resolved to issue the federal government a 7-day ultimatum to reverse the price of petrol and electricity tariff failing which indefinite industrial actions and national protest will begin on Wednesday, September 23, 2020. On its part, the NLC arising from its CWC meeting on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, had issued the federal government 14 days to reverse the hikes in electricity tariff and petrol price without which indefinite strike will commence on September 28, 2020.

Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) welcomes these responses of the two trade union centres (NLC and TUC) but we call for harmonisation of both responses. We call on the Ayuba Wabba led NLC leadership and Quadri Olaleye led TUC leadership to meet to harmonise their positions. There is the need to bring the full weight of the trade union movement to bear in the struggle that lie ahead.

We urge the NLC to mobilise their affiliates to join the nationwide protest being planned by the TUC on September 23 and the TUC should also do same for the NLC action starting on September 28.

We call on NLC and TUC to be prepared for a protracted struggle, and not a quick dash. SPN is advocating, as a first step, a definite 48 hours general strike, with an active nationwide mass protest that will involve the trade unions, pro-labour organisations and community organisations in mobilizing and taking important decisions regarding the struggle. An indefinite general strike poses the question of power and the working class must be adequately mobilized around an alternative socialist program to achieve the goal of attaining power and transforming society to meet the needs of all.

We have had at least 9 general strikes in the last 22 years over petrol price hikes and yet the price has moved from N20 per litre in 1999 to N162 per litre, a whopping 700% increment.  Petrol and electricity price hikes should not be seen in isolation from the entire neo-liberal capitalist policies, it is part of a pro-rich economic agenda that undermines the interest of the vast majority working masses. If capitalism is not defeated in the long run, the working masses will constantly come under attack of different magnitude and dimension.

Hence, we advocate the forming and building of a pan Nigerian mass working class political party armed with a socialist program by workers, youth, trade unions, artisan groups and pro-masses organisations to challenge the bourgeois political parties (PDP, APC etc). This is the only way the working class will sustainably fight and win political and economic freedom. SPN is prepared to be part of all initiatives aimed at emancipating the working masses from slavery and economic crises.

SIGNED

Abiodun Bamigboye                                                             Chinedu Bosah

Acting National Chairperson                                                   National Secretary