Connect with us

News

SERAP wants Govs, Wike to account for N5.9tr, $4.6bn loans

SERAP Sues Buhari Over $23m Abacha Loot, Seeks Copy Of Agreement With US

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has issued a one week ultimatum to Nigeria’s 36 state governors and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Mr Nyesom Wike to account for loan agreements and spending details of some N5.9 trillion and $4.6 billion loans obtained by their states and the FCT.

SERAP’s request also includes details and locations of projects executed with the loans.

SERAP also urged them to “promptly invite the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the spending of the domestic and external loans obtained by your state and the FCT.”

SERAP’s request followed the disclosure last week by Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State that the immediate past administration of Nasir El-Rufai left $587m, N85bn debt and 115 contractual labilities, making it impossible for the state to pay salaries.

In the Freedom of Information requests dated 30 March 2024 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “It is in the public interest to publish copies of the loan agreements and details of how the loans obtained are spent.”

SERAP said, “Nigerians have the right to know how their states are spending the domestic and external loans obtained by the governors.”

SERAP said, “Widely publishing copies of the loan agreements and spending details of the loans obtained would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties in the management of public funds.”

The FoI requests, read 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 take all appropriate legal actions to compel you and your state to comply with our request in the public interest.”

“SERAP is seriously concerned that many of the country’s 36 states and FCT are allegedly mismanaging public funds which may include domestic and external loans obtained from bilateral and multilateral institutions and agencies.”

“Transparency in the spending of the loans obtained by your state is fundamental to increase accountability, prevent corruption, and build trust in democratic institutions with the ultimate aim of strengthening the rule of law.”

“According to Nigeria’s Debt Management Office, the total public domestic debt portfolio for the country’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory is N5.9 trillion. The total public external debt portfolio is $4.6 billion.”

“Many states and the FCT reportedly owe civil servants’ salaries and pensions. Several states are borrowing to pay salaries. Millions of Nigerians resident in your state and the FCT continue to be denied access to basic public goods and services such as quality education and healthcare.”

“Several states including your state are also reportedly spending public funds which may include the domestic and external loans to fund unnecessary travels, buy exotic and bulletproof cars and generally fund the lavish lifestyles of politicians.”

“SERAP is seriously concerned that the domestic and external loans obtained by your state and the FCT are vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. Your government has a responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in how any loans obtained by your state are spent, to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.”

“Publishing copies of the loan agreements obtained by your state and the FCT would allow Nigerians to scrutinise them, and promote transparency and accountability on the spending of public funds including the loans obtained.”

“SERAP believes that providing and widely publishing the details of the spending of the domestic and external loans obtained by your state and the FCT would enable Nigerians to effectively and meaningfully engage in the management of the loans.”

“SERAP believes that the constitutional principle of democracy also provides a foundation for Nigerians’ right to know the details of loan agreements and how the loans obtained are spent. Citizens’ right to know promotes openness, transparency, and accountability that is in turn crucial for the country’s democratic order.”

“The effective operation of representative democracy depends on the people being able to scrutinize, discuss and contribute to government decision making, including on the spending of loans obtained by your state and the FCT.”

“To do this, they need information to enable them to participate more effectively in the management of public funds by their state government and the FCT.”

“The public interest in obtaining information about expenditures relating to the loans obtained by your state outweighs any privacy or other interest. Moreover, the oversight afforded by public access to such details would serve as an important check on the activities of your state and help to prevent abuses of the public trust.”

“SERAP is concerned that there is a significant risk of mismanagement or diversion of funds linked to loans obtained by state governments including your state. The accounts of Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT are generally not open to public scrutiny.”

“Your state has obligations under international anticorruption and human rights law, including a responsibility to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public funds, prevent mismanagement or diversion of public funds, and redress any abuse of public trust.”

“The Nigerian Constitution, human rights and anticorruption treaties to which Nigeria is a state party also impose obligations on your state to prevent mismanagement or diversion of public funds including the loans obtained.”

“SERAP is seriously concerned that years of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds including the loans obtained by states have contributed to widespread poverty, underdevelopment and lack of access to public goods and services.”

“Opacity in the spending of loans obtained by states has continued to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens and the public interest.”

“Transparency would ensure that these loans are not diverted into private pockets, and increase public trust that these loans are used and any future loans would be used to benefit Nigerians resident in your state.

“The Freedom of Information Act, Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee to everyone the right to information, including about the loan agreements and how the loans obtained are spent.”

“Your state cannot hide under the excuse that the Freedom of Information Act is not applicable to your state to refuse to provide the details being sought, as your state also has clear legal obligations to provide the information as prescribed by provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and. Enforcement) Act.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

EFCC investigates more celebrities for naira abuse

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has said it is investigating several celebrities suspected of abusing the Naira.

This was revealed in a statement signed by EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, on Sunday.

“On the issue of the works of the Commission against Naira abuse, dollarization of the economy and the enforcement of all extant laws relating to them, the EFCC appreciates the avalanche of public awakening, support and involvement demonstrated so far.

“Increasingly, members of the public are drawing the attention of the Commission to video recording of abuse of the Naira by Nigerians from all walks of life.

“These gestures amply demonstrate rising consciousness of the public to the sanctity of our national currency and the need for collaborative engagement to sustain the tempo.

“To this end, the Commission will always investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of the Naira.

“Old videos being exhumed and flying around for the attention of the Commission are noted as the Commission is sensitive to the fact that its Special Task Force against Naira Abuse and Dollarization of the economy commenced operations on February 7, 2024. However, going forward, new videos of such infractions will be investigated and prosecuted.

“At the moment, the Commission is investigating several celebrities involved in Naira abuse. Many of them have made useful statements to the Commission and many more have been invited by investigators working on the matter.

“The EFCC will not relent in its no-sacred-cow mode of operations and the public should be wary of running afoul of laws against the crime.”

Recall that popular cross-dresser Idris Okuneye aka Bobrisky was sentenced to six months imprisonment for abusing the Naira.

Justice Abimbola Awogboro handed down the sentence without an option of fine.

Continue Reading

News

No one has been cleared in humanitarian ministry fraud investigation- EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, says it has not cleared anyone involved in the ongoing fraud investigation in the humanitarian affairs ministry.

Spokesperson of the commission, Dele Oyewale stated this in a statement tagged ‘Setting the Records Straight on Investigations of Humanitarian Ministry’ on Sunday.

According to him,  ongoing investigation have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

The statement read;

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

“Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices.

“Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions.

“Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly. Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily.

“The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.”

Continue Reading

News

Junior Pope: NSIB launches investigation, sends team to accident site

The Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has launched an investigation into the boat accident that claimed the lives of Nollywood actor, Paul Odonwodo, popularly known as Junior Pope; Abigail Frederick; Precious Oforum, and Joseph Anointing, while returning from a movie location.

THN reported that the boat accident involved a commercial speedboat and a fishing canoe on the Anam River in Anambra State on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

The boat carrying 12 film crew members and a boat operator reportedly crashed into the canoe, resulting in the loss of five lives.

Tthe director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, NSIB, Bimbo Oladeji in a statement on Sundat, said the Bureau has dispatched an investigation team to the accident site.

According to Oladeji, examination of the wreckage from both boats involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members, eyewitnesses, and a review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat would be analysed, among others.

“The NSIB extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this heartbreaking accident.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Also, the director general of NSIB, Capt. Alex Badeh Jr, share in your grief and NSIB is fully committed to conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of this tragedy and prevent similar occurrence in the future.

“An investigation team has been dispatched to the accident site, and inquiry has begun. The investigation scope includes, but is not limited to: examination of the wreckage from both vessels involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members, and eyewitnesses, review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat, analysis of weather and environmental conditions at the time of the accident, and assessment of compliance with relevant safety standards and regulations for inland waterway transportation,” NSIB spokesperson said.

Oladeji further assured Nigerians that the Bureau will release the preliminary reports of the investigation to the public.

“NSIB will collaborate with relevant authorities, including the Marine Police section of the Anambra State Police Command, maritime authorities, and industry experts during the investigation.

“The bureau will release its findings in a preliminary report, followed by a final report upon the investigation’s conclusion. These reports aim to enhance safety by providing recommendations to prevent similar accidents in the future.Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims affected by the Anam boat mishap,” she added.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending