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SERAP demands probe of ‘missing’ $30 million safe school funds

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Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN)

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate allegations that $30million safe school fund is missing, mismanaged or diverted, and to bring to justice anyone suspected to be involved, as well as recover any missing money.

The body urged Mr. President to direct Malami and the anti-corruption agencies to investigate the reason the Safe Schools Initiative (SSI), established to bolster security at schools in response to the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls, has failed to stop frequent abduction of students, and to ensure safety and security of Nigerian children in schools across the country.

SERAP, in a letter, also urged Buhari to ask the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Mr. Gordon Brown, to wait for outcome of any investigation into the spending of the $30million initially budgeted for the SSI, before leading international community and donors to push for more funds for the programme.

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The call for probe followed the killing of three abducted Greenfield University students, and the plan launched by the Federal Government last week to raise additional funds for ensuring safety of schools.

In the letter dated April 24, 2021, and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said: “Rather than pushing to raise more funds for the Safe School Initiative programme, your government should prioritise and ensure a thorough, transparent and effective investigation into the spending of the $30m initially budgeted for the protection of schools, prevention of attacks, and continued education of students.”

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In the letter copied to Malami; Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed and Brown, SERAP said it would consider asking Brown to use his influence to insist on transparency and accountability in the spending of the $30million safe school fund before rushing to engage donors to commit to additional funding of the programme.

The organisation further urged Buhari to ask Brown to put pressure on the 36 state governors to accept voluntary scrutiny by Nigerians and civil society groupsa regarding spending of any funds spearheaded and raised by him to improve safety and security in Nigerian schools.

They said: “Despite the $30m safe school fund meant to ensure safety and security in 500 schools, and to provide a school environment free of fear, no school has been protected, as illustrated by the recent spate of abductions and killings of students in several parts of the country.

“Allegations of corruption in the spending of the $30million undermine the safety and security of Nigerian children in schools, and deny access of poor children to quality education in a safe environment because the money that the government should be spending to provide safe schools for Nigerian children is squandered or stolen.”

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