The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) budgeted N100 million for an unspecified number of photocopy machines in the 2022 approved budget.
The ICIR reports this is one of the highest amounts budgeted by a government agency solely for such an item in the budget.
According to the approved budget, the EFCC earmarked the amount for the purchase of a ‘Sharp 646 Photocopying machine’, with no specific number. The item was listed with code ERGP15168212.
President Muhammadu Buhari presented N16.39 trillion as the 2022 budget proposal before a joint session of the National Assembly in October 2021.
Buhari said the budget would focus on diversifying the economy, with a robust growth of the micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) sector; investing in critical infrastructure; strengthening security and ensuring good governance; enabling a vibrant, educated and healthy populace; reducing poverty; and minimizing regional, economic and social disparities.
The National Assembly passed the revised budget of N17.3 trillion in April.
Despite being Nigeria’s major anti-graft agency charged with the responsibility of investigating and enforcement of all economic and financial crimes laws, the agency failed to specify the quantity of photocopy machines it intended to buy with the money, an act condemned in some quarters as a negligence that could give room for misappropriation of funds.
A civic organisation, BudgIt, identified the vague project under the list of frivolous items in the budget and asked the agency to provide more details about the project when it was first proposed in 2021. Despite this, the item scaled through scrutiny and made it to the approved budget.
This is not the first time that the agency would be budgeting funds for the purchase of an unspecified number of photocopying machines. In 2019, the agency budgeted N25.9m for the item, and also budgeted N40.5m and N47.6m in the 2020 and 2021 budgets respectively. The N100m budgeted in 2022 is the highest budgeted by the agency for an unspecified number of photocopy machines in the last three years.
When contacted, the customer service section of a Sharp office explained that the model of the photocopy was not available, but that two equivalents of it – Sharp Mx-M464N and Sharp Mx-M564N – cost N2.3m and N3m respectively.
Speaking with The ICIR, the spokesperson of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, stated that the budget has not been implemented and until that is done, the agency cannot account for the quantity of photocopy machines it intends to purchase with the money.
“We are an anti-corruption agency. It’s not that we budgeted billions. If you check, there are photocopier machines of N200m and even more.
“You can see how big this office is. We still have 14 other offices, and each office has its photocopy machine. I also have it in my office. So, N100m photocopy machines is not a big deal,” Uwujaren said.
Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in the society. You can shoot him a scoop via email@example.com and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.