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SERAP Asks NASS to Probe Missing N10bn

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Lawan Gbajabiamila NASS Leadership

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, to investigate the N10 billion budgeted to the National Assembly (NASS) said to be missing.

In a statement issued on Sunday, SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, asked the leadership of the National Assembly to probe and refer to the appropriate anti-corruption agencies fresh allegations that N10 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated or diverted.

“The grim allegations that N10,051,283,568.82 of public money is missing are documented in the 2019 audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation,” a part of the statement said.

SERAP’s statement followed a letter dated December 11, 2021, wherein the group wants the ninth Assembly to address the allegations that improve public confidence and trust in the ability of the parliament to exercise its constitutional and oversight responsibilities and to adhere to the highest standards of integrity in the management of public funds.

According to the group, little can be achieved by the National Assembly in the fight against corruption if the leadership and members do not first confront the spectre of alleged corruption and mismanagement within their ranks.

This is even as the organisation asked both Mr Lawan and Mr Gbajabiamila to identify the lawmakers and staff members suspected to be involved and hand them over to appropriate anti-corruption agencies to face prosecution, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and to ensure full recovery of any missing public funds.

SERAP added, “As part of its legislative and oversight functions, the National Assembly has a key role to play in the fight against corruption in the country. But the National Assembly can only effectively perform its anti-corruption role if it can demonstrate exemplary leadership to probe the allegations of corruption and mismanagement involving the legislative body.

“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2019, the House of Representatives paid N2,550,000,000.00 to members as running costs between July and December 2019, but failed to account for the money, contrary to paragraph 1011(i) of the Financial Regulations. There was no evidence to show what the funds were used for, and no documents to back up the spending.

“The Auditor-General is concerned that the money may have been ‘diverted.’ He wants the money recovered.

“The House of Representatives also reportedly paid N258,000,000 as cash advances to 59 officers between February and December 2019 but has failed to account for the money. The officers were paid the money despite the fact that they have not accounted for the previous cash advances.

“The House of Representatives also reportedly paid N107,912,962.45 as repairs and maintenance allowance for unspecified residential quarters but failed to account for the money. The money spent was also in excess of the cash advances threshold of N200,000.00 as stipulated by the Financial Regulations.

“These fresh allegations amount to fundamental breaches of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

“SERAP is concerned that allegations of corruption continue to undermine economic development, violate social justice, and destroy trust in economic, social, and political institutions. Nigerians bear the heavy economic and social costs of corruption. The National Assembly, therefore, has a responsibility to curb it.

“Ensuring the effective investigation of these fresh allegations, and full recovery of any missing public funds would strengthen the country’s accountability framework, and show that the National Assembly can discharge its constitutional responsibility of amplifying the voices of Nigerians, and act in the best interest of the people.

“We would be grateful if you would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.

“If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the leadership of the National Assembly to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in the National Assembly.

“The House of Representatives also reportedly collected N1,594,807,097.83 as PAYE, car and housing loans from 17 members between February and December 2019 but failed to show receipt of remittance to relevant revenue authorities. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered.

“The House of Representatives also reportedly paid N1,010,598,610.97I from salary account but without any document to show for the payment, contrary to paragraph 601 of the Financial Regulations. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered.

“The Senate reportedly collected N219,645,597.08 as housing loans from 107 senators’ salary arrears between July and December 2019 but failed to remit the money.

“The Senate also reportedly recovered N123,320,916.72 being car loans to senators between July and December 2019, but there was no evidence that the money was remitted to the treasury. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered and remitted.

“The Senate reportedly collected N176,267,255.31 as PAYE from staff salaries but there was no evidence that the money was remitted to the relevant tax authorities, contrary to paragraph 235 of the Financial Regulations. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered and remitted.

“The Senate also reportedly collected N277,411,116.29 as Value Added Tax (VAT), and Withholding Tax (WHT) but failed to remit the money to the relevant tax authorities. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered and remitted.

“The Senate reportedly paid N1,718,130,630.24 for the supply of vehicle and other office equipment between February and December 2019 but failed to account for the money, contrary to paragraph 110 of the Financial Regulations. The Auditor-General is concerned that the money may have been diverted.

“The Senate also reportedly paid N657,757,969.05 for the supply of motor vehicles, motorcycles and other office equipment between July and December 2019, but failed to show any document for the payment, contrary to paragraph 1705 of the Financial Regulations. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered.

“The Senate also reportedly paid N423,370,000.00 for the supply of utility vehicles and production of National Assembly Logo between August and November 2019 but without any documents. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered.

“The National Assembly Service Commission reportedly paid N31,927,760 as cash advances to 59 staff but failed to account for the money. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered.

“The National Assembly Service Commission also reportedly collected N276,749,014.68 as stamp duty from contractors and service providers but failed to remit the money to appropriate tax authorities.

“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2018, the Nigerian Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies deducted N577,634,638,20 as taxes but failed to remit the money to the relevant tax authorities. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered and remitted.

“The Nigerian Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies also reportedly spent N47,750,000.00 to buy a residential building without due process, and contrary to Section 27 (1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and Financial Regulation 301.

“SERAP notes that the Auditor-General in 2015, 2017 and 2018 reports documented that over N8bn of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated or diverted.”

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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IPMAN, EFCC Move Against Oil Theft, Vandalism in N’Delta

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IPMAN

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has sought the support and intervention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in curbing oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta.

This was disclosed by the Chairman of IPMAN, Mr Bello Binna, during a visit to the Port Harcourt’s Zonal Commander of the EFCC, Mr Nwanneka Nwokike, in his office.

Mr Binna said that the EFCC was the only agency trusted to give solutions on issues of pipeline vandalism and oil theft in the Niger Delta region.

According to him, IPMAN was more comfortable with what the EFCC is doing to curb

“We are here to collaborate with the Agency with which we are more comfortable, and we believe that with your support, our jobs will have a headway.

“In the past, our efforts have been wasted, we were advised that the agency that has the mandate to make our job effectively is the EFCC,” he said.

Responding, the Port Harcourt’s Zonal Commander of the EFCC, Mr Nwanneka Nwokike, said the EFCC was working tirelessly to put an end to the menace of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region.

Mr Nwokike also stressed the need to educate youths within the region on the ills of oil theft and illegal oil bunkering.

“I assure you that the EFCC has the desire to reduce, if not bring to an end, the menace of illegal oil bunkering.

“We will educate our youths on the dangers of this, which is part of our mandate, educating our youths on why they must leave these illegalities. We must all come together to see how we can tackle this menace. I want to assure you that we will work together,” he said.

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Akinwumi Adesina Turns Down Requests to Become Next Nigerian President

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Akinwumi Adesina Sworn-In

By Adedapo Adesanya

The President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Mr Akinwumi Adesina, has ruled himself out of the 2023 presidential race in Nigeria.

Mr Adesina made his position known in a statement on Tuesday after months of calls for him to join the contest after a group bought the presidential nomination form of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for him at the cost of N100 million.

In the statement, the banker emphasised that his current desire is to continue to hold the office of the president of the AfDB which he won reelection for last year.

However, he expressed appreciation for those who found him worthy of leading his country at this critical time it is undergoing different challenges ranging from economy, security and others.

“While I am deeply honoured, humbled and grateful for all the incredible goodwill, kindness, and confidence, my current responsibilities at this time do not allow me to accept to considered,” the statement read in part.

“I remain fully engaged and committed to the mission that Nigeria, Africa and all the non-African shareholders of the African Development Bank have given me for Africa’s development.

“I remain fully focused on the mission of supporting the accelerated development and economic integration of Africa,” Mr Adesina added.

Less than two weeks ago, a coalition of 28 groups purchased the N100 million APC presidential forms for the former Agriculture Minister.

The coalition consists of groups such as the Youth Arise Movement, Nigerians in Diaspora, One Nigeria Group, Prudent Youth Association of Nigeria, women groups, farmers, and other civil society groups.

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Sanwo-Olu Promises Justice for Sound Engineer David Imoh

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David Imoh Sound Engineer

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has promised to ensure that the late Sound Engineer killed by a mob in the Lekki area of the state last week gets justice.

The Governor gave this assurance through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, in a statement issued on Monday night.

Last week, after boarding a commercial motorcycle, an argument ensued between Mr David Imoh and the okada rider over N100 and attracted other riders, who then lynched him.

There have been calls for justice for the deceased and in the statement today, the state governor said this would be done.

He condemned the mob attack and said the police are interrogating four suspects at the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Panti in connection with the incident, while two survivors of the act are in hospital.

According to Mr Sanwo-Olu, the government will address the root cause of this and similar incidents, which have caused public anxiety, appealing to residents to remain calm as police continue to investigate the matter.

“Lagos has no room for savagery and anybody found to have been involved in this barbarism will surely face the law.

“We condemn and will not condone any kind of jungle justice, no matter who the perpetrators are,” the statement stressed.

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