Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project 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 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.”

SERAP said, “Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any missing public funds should be fully recovered.”

President Muhammadu Buhari

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

In a letter dated April 17, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, “The reported missing public funds reflect the failure of the indicted MDAs to ensure strict compliance with transparency and accountability rules and regulations, and the failure of leadership of the MDAs to foster institutions that uphold the rule of law and human rights.”

It continued, “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 realise Nigerians’ rights to quality health care and education, as well as reduce the growing level of public debts.”

The letter reads in part; “SERAP urges you to ask Mrs Ahmed and Mr Ahmed Idris, the Accountant-General of the Federation to explain why they allegedly failed to ensure strict compliance with relevant legislation, rules and regulations across all MDAs, despite the warning and recommendations by the Auditor-General.

“SERAP also urges you to direct Mrs Ahmed to publish full details of the yearly budgets of all MDAs, and issue regular updates that accurately detail their expenditures, including by making any such information easily accessible in a form that can be understood by the public.

“The Auditor-General stated that the alleged infractions by the 149 MDAs could have been prevented if the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and the Accountant General of the Federation had heeded his warning to ensure strict compliance with relevant legislation, rules and regulations across all MDAs.

“SERAP is concerned that the alleged missing public funds have hampered the ability of the MDAs to meet the needs of average citizens, as the missing funds could have helped your government to invest in key public goods and services, and to improve access of Nigerians to these services.

“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.”

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