THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to promptly probe allegations surrounding the “missing, diverted, or unaccounted for” $3.4 billion loan obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The organisation asked Tinubu to direct the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Lateef Fagbemi, and other anti-corruption agencies to investigate the fund.
A statement by the organisation’s deputy director, Kolawale Oluwadare, on Sunday, February 4, said the 2020 annual audited report published last week by the Auditor-General of the Federation revealed damning issues, noting that there was no document to show the movement and spending of the IMF loan.
The SERAP also urged the President to ensure that “anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any missing IMF loan should be fully recovered and returned to the public treasury.”
Oluwadare emphasised the genuine public interest in securing justice and accountability for grave allegations.
He highlighted that meting out commensurate punishment would end impunity.
Oluwadare argued that failure to investigate these serious allegations, prosecute suspected perpetrators, and recover any missing IMF loan could significantly impact resource allocation and worsen the country’s debt burden.
The letter reads in part: “We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”
“The Auditor-General recommends that the money be fully recovered and remitted to the public treasury and those suspected to be involved ‘sanctioned and handed over to anticorruption agencies.
“The allegations of corruption in the spending of IMF loan documented by the Auditor-General undermine economic development of the country, trap the majority of Nigerians in poverty and deprive them of opportunities.”
SERAP also noted that the allegations suggested a grave violation of the public trust, the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), the country’s anti-corruption legislation and international anti-corruption obligations, including under the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
“According to the 2020 annual audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation published last week, the US$3.4 billion emergency financial assistance obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to finance the budget and manage the health crisis stemming from the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic may have been missing, diverted or unaccounted for.”
“According to the Auditor-General, no information or document was provided to justify the movement and spending of fund,” the statement read.
SERAP further explained that the Auditor-General’s report revealed that Nigeria was expected to spread the loan payment from 2023 to 2027. The first instalment, due in 2023, is worth $497.17 million, the second instalment, due in 2024, will be worth $1.76 billion, and the third instalment, due in 2025, will be worth $865.27 million, the organisation quoted the Attorney-General’s report as saying.
It added that the final two instalments, due in 2026 and 2027, would each be worth $33.99 million.
Quoting several portions of the Constitution, SERAP emphasised the president’s power to ensure proper management of public affairs and public funds.