SERAP seeks probe of alleged missing N10b National Assembly funds
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila to probe fresh allegations that N10 billion budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated or diverted.
It said: “The grim allegations that N10,051,283,568.82 of public money is missing are documented in the 2019 audited report by the Auditor General of the Federation.”
In a letter dated December 11, 2021 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said addressing the allegation would improve public confidence and trust in the ability of the National Assembly to exercise its constitutional and oversight responsibilities, and adhere to the highest standards of integrity in management of public funds.
“Little can be achieved by the National Assembly in the fight against corruption if the leadership and members do not first confront the spectre of alleged corruption and mismanagement within their ranks,” SERAP said.
It also urged Lawan and Gbajabiamila to identify lawmakers and staff members suspected to be involved and hand them over to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for prosecution, and ensure recovery of any missing public funds.
The letter was copied to Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa; and the chairmen of Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly.
SERAP further stressed that as part of its legislative and oversight functions, the National Assembly has a key role to play in the fight against corruption in the country. But the Assembly can only effectively perform its anti-corruption role if it demonstrates exemplary leadership and probes allegations of corruption and mismanagement involving the legislative body.
SERAP said: “The House of Representatives paid N2,550,000,000.00 to members as running costs between July and December 2019, but failed to account for the money, contrary to Paragraph 1011(i) of the Financial Regulations.”
There was no evidence to show what the funds were used for, and no documents to back-up the spending.
“The Auditor General is concerned that the money may have been ‘diverted.’ He wants the money recovered.”
The fresh allegations, SERAP said, amount to fundamental breaches of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and the country’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.