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SERAP seeks probe of N116m spent on biros, others

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Minister of Petroleum, Timipre Sylva

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, to urgently probe how N116 million was spent by the ministry to buy biros, letterhead, and toners in 2015.

SERAP also urged them to disclose the amount spent on the same items between 2016 and 2020, and if there is evidence of misuse of public funds, refer the matter to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for prosecution.

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According to SERAP, the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation had last Thursday, before the Senate Public Accounts Committee, revealed that officials of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources spent N116 million to buy biros, letterhead, and toners in one year, and alleged “contravention of the Public Procurement Act 2017 by the permanent secretary.”

In the letter dated December 12, 2020, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the UN Convention against Corruption and African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption require the government to ensure that Nigeria’s resources are used effectively and efficiently, and in a manner consistent with the public interest.

“An effective and efficient ministry ought to keep careful track of how it spends public money, and put in place a system to eliminate corruption, mismanagement, unnecessary, inefficient, or unreasonable expenditures.”

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The group told Buhari and Sylva: “Transparency and openness in the spending by your ministry would ensure the public trust, efficient, effective and competent delivery of public goods and services. Openness in the spending by your ministry will also strengthen the country’s democracy and promote efficiency and integrity in government.”

The letter copied to the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) also read in part: “Any allegations of misuse of public funds may constitute serious misconduct that impairs the efficiency of your ministry, and undermines public confidence in the ability of ministries, departments and agencies [MDAs] to provide essential public goods and services to Nigerians.

“SERAP is concerned that the allegations by the Office of the Auditor-General raises serious violations of anti-corruption legislation, the Nigerian constitution, and international anti-corruption standards.”

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