Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “instruct the minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN and minister of Finance, Ms Kemi Adeosun to urgently publish more details on the alleged fraud and stealing of some of the N1 trillion budgeted for the Social Investments Programme (SIP), including the exact amount of the $321m of the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha recently returned by Switzerland, affected by the fraud.”
The organisation also urged Buhari to “instruct appropriate authorities to publish details of how his government plans to spend and monitor the spending of the $85m returned by the United Kingdom from the controversial Malabu deal involving $1.6bn, so as to remove the risks of corruption or mismanagement of the money.”
The Special Adviser on SIP, Maryam Uwais, had last week reportedly disclosed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was invited to probe ‘massive fraud’ and other corrupt practices like short-changing, racketeering, harassment of beneficiaries and exploitation of the vulnerable plagued the scheme in some states.
SERAP in a statement by its deputy director Timothy Adewale said, “While we welcome the reported disclosure of fraud and corruption in the SIP and the request to the EFCC to probe the allegations, we are concerned that sufficient details about the allegations have not been disclosed. Nigerians have the right to know more about the allegations, including the names of the states involved, and whether the recently returned $321m Abacha loot was affected by the reported fraud and corruption.”
According to the organisation, it is important for the government to identify and remove the risks of corruption in the SIP as fast as possible and let Nigerians know the exact steps the authorities are taking to protect public funds, including the returned Abacha loot.
It stated that part of this could include naming and shaming the states and contractors involved, to serve as deterrent to others and to preserve the integrity of the SIP.
The statement reads further: “Transparency in the spending of returned Abacha loot and Malabu funds is absolutely important to ensure that the funds are utilized for tackling poverty and inequality in the country and not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen. The authorities should actively take steps to prevent any misuse of the repatriated funds.”
“It is in the public interests, especially victims of corruption, and the government, to maintain good practices with regard to the spending of all assets recovered. This would also make repatriation easier and the countries where our commonwealth has been diverted would have no difficulty in disgorging the looted funds.”
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