The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly investigate allegations of systemic mismanagement of security votes by state governors since 1999.
Buhari had in his 2022 New Year message raised concerns about the persistent insecurity in certain parts of the country, and promised to give utmost attention to the problem.
In the letter dated January 1, 2022, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, saying, “if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any mismanaged public funds should be fully recovered.”
The letter, read in part, “Ending impunity for allegations of corruption in the spending of security votes and recovering any mismanaged public funds are matters of public interest.
“As revealed by a recent report by Transparency International (TI), most of the funds appropriated as security votes are spent on political activities, mismanaged or simply stolen.
“It is estimated that security votes add up to over N241.2 billion every year..On top of appropriated security votes, state governments also receive millions of dollars yearly as international security assistance.
“Against the background of well-documented cases of abduction, killings and ongoing security challenges in several parts of the country, the time has come to end the culture of impunity for allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds meant to ensure the security of life and property of Nigerians.
“While sitting state governors may enjoy immunity from arrest and prosecution, they do not enjoy immunity from investigation. Any allegations of mismanagement of security votes against sitting governors can and should be investigated pending the time they leave office and lose immunity. The findings of such investigation can also be the basis for initiating impeachment proceedings against any indicted governor.
“SERAP urges you to instruct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor spending of security votes by the 36 state governors.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”