Transparency International on Wednesday revealed how over N241billion is being siphoned from the nation's treasury annually, using the security votes as a conduit pipe to divert public funds.

The antigraft organisation also indicted top security chiefs and state governors, who it noted deployed security votes to create insecurity in different parts of the country.

Mr Adeolu Kilanko, of the Transparency International (Defence and Security Unit) disclosed this on Wednesday via a report titled: "Camouflaged Cash - How Security Votes Fuel Corruption in Nigeria" presented at the Zonal official launch of the report in Nigeria organized by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in Ibadan.

He stated that among average Nigerians, the words 'security votes' are synonymous with official corruption and abuse of power.

Asking for a legislation to abolish security vote, he stated that Transparency International estimated that these secretive and unaccounted-for-cash expenditures add up to over N241.2billion annually.

He said "in just one year, these extra budgetary expenditures add up to over nine times the amount of US security assistance to Nigeria since 2012 ($68.6m) and over twelve times the $53.5m (40million pounds) in counterterrorism support the UK promised Nigeria from 2016 to 2020 .

"Looking at it from another angle, security vote spending exceeds 70 percent of the annual budget of the Nigeria Police Force, more than the Nigerian Army's annual budget, and more than the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air Force's annual budgets combined".

Though, top security chiefs and governors were indicted in the slush cash, TI  commended some state governors for transiting from security vote to Security Trust Fund (STF), especially Lagos state for shifting toward using a public-private security trust fund to provide supplementary funding to security services in the state.

According to him, it is noteworthy that the Security Trust Fund established in Lagos was typically set up by legislation and managed by a board of trustees drawn from government and private industry.

As part of its recommendations to tackle the growing corruption, Kilanko called for a ban on the use of security votes to be accompanied by legislation specifying budgetary procedures and criteria for security expenditures to meet international best practices.

"The federal government and Nigeria's international partners should work with state governments to established Security Trust Funds as a transitional measure. Security Trust Fund best practices should be enshrined in an act passed by the National Assembly, to ensure that their funds are used accountably and in the public interest.

"The Lagos state Security Trust Fund could be drawn upon as a model. To succeed, these funds must be professionally managed, cost effective, transparent and free from political and security force interference," TI said.

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