The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari should “direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, and the appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate ministries, departments and agencies, and members of the National Assembly suspected to be responsible for inserting N39.5 billion for apparently 316 duplicated and mysterious projects in the 2021 budget.”
SERAP noted that any such investigation would establish whether public funds had been mismanaged, diverted or stolen in the guise of implementing the duplicated and mysterious projects.
The group stated in a release that anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there was sufficient admissible evidence.
In the letter dated May 8, 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.
“We are concerned that the N39.5 billion 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.
“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.
“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.”
The letter was copied to Mr Malami; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.