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Missing N4.1bn: SERAP, stakeholders mount pressure on NASS for probe


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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has restated the call for Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila to launch an immediate investigation into allegations of missing N4.1 billion budgeted for the National Assembly.

About a fortnight ago, SERAP urged Lawan and Gbajabiamila to use their good offices to urgently probe fresh allegations that N4.1 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly was missing, misappropriated, diverted, or stolen.

SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare urged heads of the legislative arm of government to probe the allegation during a radio program, ‘Public Conscience on Radio,’ produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) every Wednesday in Abuja.

Oluwadare, who frowned at the non-action of the two legislative arms of the government since the report was published by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation in 2016, maintained that the rights group was only demanding the National Assembly to come clean on the missing funds.

He noted that if the missing National Assembly fund was not resolved and explained, it would affect citizens’ perception of the legislature and widen the curve of distrust between citizens and the government.

“This report was published since 2016. This is more than five years, one would have expected the National Assembly to look at it and make a proper resolution because the law says they must, but in this instance, because the allegation is against the National Assembly.
“One can understand the unwillingness of the National Assembly, and that’s why we are calling on the National Assembly and Nigerians to support this advocacy to ensure that this is not swept under the carpet. You can just guess how much N4 billion would help to reduce the deficit that we have in the 2021 budget.”

Asked if there had been any reaction from the anti-corruption agencies, he said: “No, not at all, not from public officials, the ICPC, the EFCC, and not from the National Assembly and definitely not from the attorney general.”

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But we do hope that EFCC will take this up as it has in the past.”

On his part, Community Engagement Officer at Connected Development (Code) Mukhtar Moddibo condemned the missing money at the National Assembly and commended SERAP’s efforts, decrying that transparency and accountability were seriously lacking in public sector management.

He added that one of the major issues hindering a lot of Nigerians from tracking corruption in the country was non-availability of data.

Moddibbo, however, said that there was nothing concrete done against corruption in Nigeria.

Political and Social Commentator Chidozie Eze attributed the cause of misappropriation of funds over the years at the National Assembly to greed, selfishness, responsiveness, religious and ethnic bias.

According to Eze, misappropriation of funds was widespread in Nigeria because round pegs were put in square holes. He called on Federal Government to strengthen the whistle-blowing policy in order to galvanise more citizens into its anti-corruption war.

Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government’s and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.

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The program is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

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