SERAP demands details of security votes spending in 2021
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent Freedom of Information (FoI) request to President Muhammadu Buhari and the 36 state governors to disclose details of their proposed ‘security votes’ spending in the 2021 appropriation bills.
SERAP, which urged the leaders to prioritise security and welfare of Nigerians, also requested them to explain the measures they put in place to prevent misuse and embezzlement of public funds in the name of security votes.
In a statement, the group said: “In the wake of the abduction of over 300 students from the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, and ongoing security challenges in several parts of the country, the time has come to demonstrate transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds meant to secure life and property.”
In the FoI requests dated December 26, 2020 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said disclosing details of spending as security votes for 2021 would serve to engage the Nigerian people in an honest conversation about the security challenges confronting the country, and what the federal and state governments are doing to respond to them.
“This is a legitimate public interest matter. While SERAP understands that authorities may keep certain operational matters secret from the people in the name of national security, there is no constitutional or legal basis to hide basic information on public spending from the people,” the group said.
The organisation expressed concerns that the intense secrecy and lack of meaningful oversight of the government’s spending of security votes have, for many years, contributed to mismanagement and large-scale corruption in the sector, as well as limited the ability of the people to hold high-ranking public officials to account for their constitutional responsibility to ensure the security and welfare of the people.
SERAP argued that “the government’s responsibility to guarantee and ensure security and welfare of the Nigerian people is closely interlinked with your responsibility under Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of office.
“This imposes a fundamental obligation to promote transparency and accountability in security votes spending, and to remove opportunities for corruption.”
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