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Buhari Gets Ultimatum to Probe Spending of Ecological Fund

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spending of Ecological Fund

By Adedapo Adesanya

President Muhammadu Buhari has been given a deadline by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to investigate the spending of Ecological Fund by governments at all levels—federal, state and local- from 2001 to date.

In a letter dated October 22, 2022, the group asked Mr Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, and the appropriate anti-corruption agencies to look into how the funds have been spent for the last 21 years within seven days.

This became imperative following the ravaging floods in most states of the federation, which have claimed more than 600 lives and have rendered many homeless.

SERAP said it was worried that the huge amount of money released to state and local governments to tackle this issue had been squandered by officials.

The organisation wants “suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement [to] face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any missing public funds should be fully recovered.”

In the open letter signed by its deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “trillions of ecological funds have allegedly gone down the drain. The resulting human costs directly threaten human rights – rights to life and to a place to live – rights that your government has an obligation to protect.”

The rights body said, “Irrespective of the cause of a threat to human rights, your government still has positive obligations to use all the means within its disposal to uphold the human rights of those affected.”

SERAP also said, “Although ecological funds are shared across the three tiers of government and emergency management agencies, the funds are managed and supervised by the Federal Government.”

It reminded Mr Buhari that his “government has the legal obligations to hold all tiers of government and emergency management agencies to account, and to trace, find, and recover any missing ecological funds.”

“Your government has the legal obligations to address the calamitous consequences of flooding for the human rights of millions of people and to prevent and address some of the direst consequences that climate change may reap on human rights, especially given the disproportionate impact on vulnerable people and communities.

“Your government must use all means available to it to prevent and address the threats to human rights that result from climate change and to provide access to effective remedies for victims when these rights are violated.

“Your government has a positive obligation to protect individuals against the threat posed to human rights by climate change, regardless of the causes.

“Your government also has legal obligations to effectively address the aftermath of the flooding, such as deterioration in health, diminishing access to safe drinking water and susceptibility of the areas affected to disease.

“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.

“Climate change also has the potential to exacerbate existing threats to human rights in the country. Rising global temperatures will jeopardise many people’s livelihoods, increasing their vulnerability to poverty and social deprivation.

“In order to uphold its constitutional and international human rights obligations, your government must respond to the impacts of the flooding and of climate change generally.

“According to the audit of the Ecological Fund Office carried out by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the total amount allocated and received by the fund from December 2011 to November 2016 was N277 billion.

“The operations of the Fund from 2012 to 2016 reportedly showed that some of the disbursements were not utilised for the purpose for which it was established. During these periods, N74,170,932,645.20 was released to State Governments to solve ecological problems in their states.

“Impunity for corruption in the management of Ecological Fund will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes. By pursuing these allegations and taking the evidence before the court, the truth will be revealed and justice best served.

“SERAP is seriously concerned that years of allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the spending of Ecological Fund and entrenched impunity of perpetrators have undermined the ability of governments at all levels and emergency management agencies to prevent the impact of flooding on the human rights of socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians, and to respond to the problem effectively.

“Allegations of corruption and mismanagement have undermined the ability of authorities at all levels to invest in drainage systems and to tackle soil erosion and climate change challenges across several parts of the country.

“SERAP also urges you to direct Mr Malami and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to urgently identify and ensure access to justice and effective remedies to affected victims,” it said.

“SERAP also urges you to direct Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Federal Government to publish details of allocations from the Ecological Fund to the Federal Government, the 36 state governments, Abuja, the 774 local government areas of the country, and the National Emergency Management Agency, as well as state emergency management agencies between 2001 to date.

“SERAP urges you to instruct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor the spending of Ecological Fund by the 36 state governors, the 774 local government areas, as well as all emergency management agencies across the country funded through the Ecological Fund.

“SERAP is concerned that the funds released for ecological projects are characterised by mismanagement, diversion of funds, substandard and abandoned projects fully paid for. Ecological funds have also been allegedly spent for other purposes, such as election campaigns and political patronage.

“Prevention of corruption in the spending of Ecological Fund, and preventing and addressing the challenges caused by climate change are serious and legitimate public interests.

“There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for alleged corruption and mismanagement in the management of Ecological Fund.

“Nigerians have the right to know how the public funds budgeted to address ecological challenges are spent. Publishing the details of allocations of Ecological Fund since 2001 would promote transparency, accountability, and reduce the risks of corruption in the spending of the funds,” SERAP added.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Greater Lagos Vanguard Endorses Sanwo-Olu for 2nd Term

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Greater Lagos Vanguard

By Adedapo Adesanya

A grassroots political organisation, Greater Lagos Vanguard (GLV), has commended all adherents of democracy and good governance for trooping out in their thousands in solidarity with Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, who flagged off his re-election bid for a second term in office in Lagos on Saturday, December 3.

The group has also lauded the Governor for “a successful first term tenure which has witnessed monumental development strides in various facet of governance and has endeared Mr Governor to the hearts of appreciative Lagosians who trooped out today in solidarity with him, which is an endorsement for his second term in office.”

In a statement jointly signed by its convener, Mr Nelson Ekujumi and its General Secretary, Mr Uche Nnadozie, the organisation stated that, “We feel proud and excited to proclaim that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has performed excellently well in his first time in office which is still ongoing, in line with the tradition of the excellent performance of good governance like his predecessors and the Lagos master plan of economic growth and development.”

According to GLV, Mr Sanwo-Olu has distinguished himself excellently well in the areas of governance, such as his outstanding role as the incident commander in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, which earned him local and international accolades.

“The way and manner Governor Sanwo-Olu mobilised men and resources to confront the pandemic was a turning point and testament of his quality as a servant leader, who leads from the front, and it contributed in no small measure to the success recorded by Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general and became a global reference point,” the statement read.

The group also mentioned the infrastructural development projects of the Governor like construction, reconstruction and renovation of health institutions, roads, 21st-century model schools, ICT, agricultural tools and implements for farmers, first and last-mile buses, empowerment of transportation and traffic agencies, emergency responders fire fighting trucks and equipment, vehicles, motorbikes, APC, walkie talkie, etc for the security agencies among several others.

While commending Mr Sanwo-Olu for a job well done in his first time, it promised to mobilise Lagosians to support, canvass and vote for him on election day based on the testimonials of what he has done.

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SERAP Sues FG over Missing Ecological Funds

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By Adedapo Adesanya

Following the expiry of an ultimatum given to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to probe the missing ecological funds at all levels, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the federal government.

Joined in the suit as respondents are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha.

In a statement on Sunday, SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, specifically said the decision to file a lawsuit followed “the failure to probe the spending of trillions of ecological funds by governments at all levels—federal, state and local governments from 2001 to date, and to ensure the prosecution of suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of public funds.”

According to him, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently said that no fewer than 600 persons died, and 1.3 million were rendered homeless as a result of the floods that ravaged most states across the country, with the destruction of properties worth billions.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/2283/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to promptly and thoroughly investigate the spending of Ecological Fund by governments at the Federal, state and local government levels from 2001 to date.”

The rights group also wants the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to ensure that suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of trillions of ecological funds are promptly brought to justice, and any missing public funds fully recovered.”

“The failure to probe the alleged missing trillions, prosecute suspected perpetrators and recover any missing public funds is a fundamental breach of constitutional and international legal obligations,” the statement partly read.

“Impunity for corruption in the management of Ecological Fund will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes.

“It is in the public interest to direct and compel President Buhari to probe these allegations so that evidence can be taken before the court and the truth about the spending of ecological funds revealed, and justice served,” it added.

The group alleged further that the federal government had violated the obligations to protect and uphold the human rights of those affected and to provide them with access to justice and effective remedies.

It argued that the government has the legal obligation to address the calamitous consequences of flooding for the human rights of millions of people and to prevent and address the consequences that climate change may reap on human rights.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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Firm Rewards Ibadan Traders for Sorting Waste to Ease Recycling

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Bodija market traders recycling

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Some traders in Bodija market, Ibadan, Oyo State, have been rewarded for segregating their waste to make it easier for recycling.

The beneficiaries were given gift items like Bluetooth headsets, customised simple chest bags, and customised face caps by the waste management consultant to the Oyo State government, Mottainai Recycling, on Friday through an initiative known as Recyclables for Rewards.

At the campaign, in its third year, two tonnes of recyclables were recovered by the company, which is managing waste collection in the state.

The Managing Director of Mottainai Recycling, Mr Adey Adewuyi, sensitised traders, buyers and passers-by in Bodija market and its environs on how the waste they generate could be a source of wealth.

Mr Adewuyi, represented by the firm’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Ms Deborah Fadeyi, urged the traders to embrace proper waste disposal and management habits like segregating their waste at source.

He further encouraged them to avoid dumping waste on the median, warning that those caught erring would be fined and punished according to law.

Also, the Special Adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde on Environmental Matters, Mr Ademola Aderinto, explained that the initiative was aimed at creating awareness among traders and residents to segregate their waste at source and recover as much plastics before it enters into the water bodies and landfills.

He said that the event showcases the economic and social benefits of recycling, adding that “the event is aimed at making the good people of Oyo State see value in what they consider as waste.”

“These wastes would have otherwise ended up in landfills and water bodies which will contribute to the pollution of the environment,” he added.

Mr Aderinto discouraged the act of dumping waste on the median by the market men and women and also encouraged them to sort out their waste to ease the act of recycling, noting that the government will do more to eradicate the issue of improper waste disposal and management in the state.

“There was also an adequate and effective sensitisation and awareness campaign in the market on the need for proper waste management. They were also enlightened on the economic benefits of recycling instead of allowing their recyclables to end up on the median, water bodies or the landfills,” he said.

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