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SERAP urges recovery of alleged missing funds in UBEC, SUBEBs

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to order probe of allegations of corruption in the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) between 2004 and 2020, including missing N3,836,685,213.13 documented in the 2017 annual report of Auditor-General of the Federation.

The group urged Mr. President to direct Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to work with appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly carry out the investigation.

SERAP also urged Mr. President to direct Malami and the anti-corruption agencies to make public outcome of any investigation, and to prosecute suspected perpetrators if there is relevant admissible evidence, as well as fully recover any missing public funds.

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In an open letter dated February 20, 2021 and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said: “Allegations of corruption in UBEC and SUBEBs violate the right to education of millions of Nigerian children who continue to face unsuitable learning conditions, as shown by the poor learning and boarding facilities at the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State where dozens of schoolchildren, teachers and their relatives were abducted by gunmen.”

“Investigating the allegations of corruption and mismanagement in UBEC and SUBEBs, prosecuting suspected perpetrators and recovering any missing public funds would contribute to addressing the education crisis in the country, which has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable and marginalised, and entrenched inequality.”

SERAP also urged President Buhari to ensure prompt investigation into the spending of money budgeted for Safe School Initiative since 2014, including N3.2 billion from the Federal Government and private donors meant to ensure a safer school environment for children, and to clean up an apparently entrenched system of corruption in the education sector.

According to the group, many years of unresolved allegations of corruption and mismanagement in UBEC and SUBEBs have resulted in decreasing quality of education for poor children while many politicians send their own children to the best private schools in the country and abroad, and thereby leaving behind generations of poor children.

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“Allegations of corruption in UBEC and SUBEBs undermine public confidence in the education sector, lead to the erosion of education quality and access, and if not urgently addressed will lead to an increase in out-of-school children, and exacerbate educational inequalities in the country.

“According to the 2017 annual report by the Auditor-General of the Federation, UBEC spent ₦7,712,000.00 to engage external solicitors between January to December, 2015 without due process and the approval of the Attorney General of the Federation. UBEC also reportedly failed to explain the nature of the legal services rendered. The auditor-general is concerned UBEC may have engaged ‘unqualified solicitors.”

The letter was copied to Malami; Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye and Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Mohammed Abba.

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