President Goodluck Jonathan
Re: Request to urgently invite anti-corruption agencies to monitor spending on the fight against Boko Haram
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) is writing to request you to urgently instruct both the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to monitor government’s spending on the fight against Boko Haram in order to ensure that the funds are spent exactly to end the unnecessary loss of lives and other continuing serious violations of human rights in that part of the country.
SERAP is a human rights non-governmental organization whose mandate include to promote and seek respect for socio-economic rights of Nigerians, and to promote transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors through human rights.
SERAP is seriously concerned about reports that the Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima this week stated that “Boko Haram members were better armed and motivated than Nigerian troops.” If true, it suggests that colossal sums of security funds that have so far been budgeted to prosecute the fight against Boko Haram have not achieved value for money. SERAP is concerned that the funds may not have been appropriately spent.
Lack of transparency in particular creates high vulnerability for corruption, especially in the procurement processes. SERAP believes that transparent and accountable in the management of funds meant to end the problem of Boko Haram is key to efficient and effective security forces capable of responding to Nigerians’ legitimate security needs. Lack of transparency, accountability and general deficiencies in the way the security budget and arms purchases are decided and controlled are likely to be one explanation why the Boko Haram are better equipped and more motivated than the government forces.
If the president is truly determined to end the problem of Boko Haram and the associated human rights violations and sufferings, he should now move to invite the EFCC and ICPC to monitor the spending to fight Boko Haram, including to check leakages in the procurement processes. Otherwise, any such spending will not provide the much needed economic or security benefits, and will merely continue to consume scarce resources needed to address other basic needs of the population.
SERAP hopes that the involvement of the anti-corruption agencies would help to avoid excessive, wasteful and corrupt expenditures and procurement. The National Assembly should also be involved and should be more proactive in exercising its oversight constitutional roles in this respect.
By increasing transparency and accountability of the spending on Boko Haram, the president will invariably be putting in place effective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace, stability and realization of citizens’ sacred human rights. The right to life is the supreme right of the human being. It is basic to all human rights and without it all other rights are without meaning.
Increasing transparency and accountability in the spending on Boko Haram will also help to improve citizens’ confidence in the ability of the government to end the problem. The government cannot continue to use sensitivity or security concerns as an excuse to avoid the urgent need for transparency and accountability in this respect.
The citizens and National Assembly must be regularly informed about government’s spending on Boko Haram, and the processes that the government is putting in place to improve practices, and to ensure effective investigations and prosecution for any allegations of corruption.
In case the president does not act as recommended, SERAP will explore other legal options including under the Freedom of Information Act to improve transparency and accountability in the spending on Boko Haram.