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SERAP urges Buhari to probe alleged missing N3.1b in Ministry of Finance

By Silver Nwokoro (Lagos) and Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
27 December 2021   |   3:40 am
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to use his good offices to direct the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami....


• AGF says 18,388 mails treated in 2021

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to use his good offices to direct the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate allegations that over N3 billion of public funds are missing, mismanaged or diverted from the Federal Ministry of Finance.

The organisation said the allegations are documented in the 2018 and 2019 audited reports by the Auditor General of the Federation.

SERAP said: “Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any missing public funds should be fully recovered.”

In a letter dated December 24, 2021 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation noted that the reports suggest a grave violation of public trust.

As trustee of public funds, the body said, the Ministry of Finance ought to ensure strict compliance with transparency and accountability rules and regulations.

According to SERAP, as a key agency of government, the ministry has a sacred duty to ensure transparency and accountability in spending of the country’s resources. This implies providing strong leadership in efforts to curb public sector corruption.

It said: “This leadership is important for the ministry to enjoy the public trust and confidence essential for its effectiveness and impact.

“The allegations that N3,143,718,976.47 of public funds are missing will also clearly amount to a fundamental breach of national anti-corruption laws and the country’s international anti-corruption obligations including under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to which Nigeria is a state party.”

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), Abdulrasheed Bawa; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; and chairmen of Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly, the organisation said investigating and prosecuting the allegation, and recovering any missing public funds would improve the chances of success of government’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption and end the impunity of perpetrators. It will also serve the public interest.

MEANWHILE, Malami, at the weekend, disclosed that his office received and treated 18,388 mails from January 2 to December 24, 2021.

This was made known by the minister ‘s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, in a statement in Abuja.

According to Gwandu, the number of mails treated by Malami increased this year by 4,661 from last year’s 13,772.

The statement said: “The breakdown showed that in the first quarter, Malami treated 1,317 mails from various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government: 1,687 mails were received from law firms, 1,516 from private individuals, while 391 were received from civil society organisations, making a total of 4,911 mails treated from January to March 2021.”

According to the statement, several MDAs sent 1,336 mails to the AGF, 416 were received from numerous law firms, 1,652 mails from private individuals and 268 mails from civil society organisations totalling 3,672 mails received from April to June.

The statement added that within the third quarter, 5,113 mails were received, 1,596 of which were from MDAs, 1,432 from law firms, 1,731 from private individuals and 354 from civil society organisations from July to September.