SERAP writes Buhari, seeks probe of ‘missing N3.1bn in Ministry of Finance’ | NN NEWS

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 (SAN) and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate allegations that over N3billion of public funds are missing, mismanaged or diverted from the Federal Ministry of Finance.

The organisation said the allegations were documented in the 2018 and 2019 annual audited reports by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

In the letter dated 24 December 2021, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The reports suggest a grave violation of the public trust. As trustee of public funds, the Ministry of Finance ought to ensure strict compliance with transparency and accountability rules and regulations. Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any missing public funds should be fully recovered.” 

SERAP said as a key agency of government, the Ministry of Finance has a sacred duty to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the country’s resources.

“This implies providing strong leadership in the efforts to curb public sector corruption. This leadership is important for the Ministry to enjoy the public trust and confidence essential for its effectiveness and impact.”

“The allegations that N3,143,718,976.47 of public funds are missing will also clearly amount to a fundamental breach of national anti-corruption laws and the country’s international anti-corruption obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.

“Investigating and prosecuting the allegations, and recovering any missing public funds would improve the chances of success of your government’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption and end the impunity of perpetrators. It will also serve the public interest.”

According to the  report of the Auditor-General for 2018, the Ministry of Finance spent N24,708,090 on pre-retirement training, but without any document. The consultant hired also failed to quote any price as cost of the training, but the ministry paid N5,670,060 to the consultant. The request for the payment from the consultant was dated January 20, 2017 while the first payment voucher in his favour was dated 13 January 2017, seven days before his request.

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