Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate allegations of systemic mismanagement of security votes by state governors since 1999.
SERAP also urged Buhari to instruct Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor spending of security votes by the 36 state governors.
The body said: “Probing the spending of security votes and ensuring accountability for any cases of corruption would improve the ability of your government to deliver on promises to ensure the security of Nigerians.
“Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any mismanaged public funds should be fully recovered.”
The organisation recalled that Buhari, in his 2022 new year message, raised concerns about persistent insecurity in certain parts of the country and promised to remain resolute in giving utmost attention to the problem.
In a letter dated January 1, 2022 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the most satisfactory and effective way to demonstrate the often repeated commitments to address insecurity in the country is to promptly and thoroughly probe persistent allegations of corruption in spending of security votes by state governors.
SERAP said: “As revealed in a recent report by Transparency International (TI), most of the funds appropriated as security votes are spent on political activities, mismanaged or simply stolen. It is estimated that security votes add up to over N241.2 billion every year. On top of appropriated security votes, state governments also receive millions of dollars yearly as international security assistance.
“Longstanding allegations of corruption and mismanagement of security votes have hugely contributed to growing insecurity in the country and failure of authorities to effectively discharge their constitutional responsibility in ensuring the security and welfare of their own people.
“Pervasive tendency by public officers to regard or treat security votes as their personal entitlement or funds is antithetical to the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international standards. Security votes should be used for improving the security situation in the states or returned to the public treasury.”
In the letter copied to Malami, the body said successive governments have failed to effectively discharge their primary and constitutional responsibility to protect the life and property of the Nigerian people.