Probe Missing Chibok Safe School Funds, SERAP Tells EFCC

SERAP Drags Senate To UN Over Magu's RejectionThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Nigeria’s anti-graft body to investigate allegations that the  Safe School funds for Chibok girls is missing and cannot be accounted for.

The group’s request was contained in a petition SERAP sent to the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, requesting him to urgently begin a thorough, transparent and effective investigation into the issue.

The said fund of 500 million Naira was commissioned by former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to rebuild the Government Girls School in Chibok community in Borno State, northeast Nigeria.

SERAP, in a statement on Wednesday, urged the EFCC to “invite for questioning, and name and shame anyone suspected to be involved in the alleged diversion, including the contractors allegedly handling the project”.

In the petition dated December 27, 2016 and signed by SERAP’s senior staff attorney, Timothy Adewale, the organisation said: “The allegation that 500 million Naira has been lost to corruption has resulted in denying the girls access to education, and shows the failure of the former President Goodluck Jonathan government to live up to Nigeria’s commitments under the global Safe School Declaration”.

Chibok Community Celebrates Homecoming For 21 Rescued Girls
Some of the rescued Chibok girls

Monitor Government’s Spending

It further read: “SERAP believes that the diversion of the funds will expose the school to attacks in the future. This is a fundamental breach of the country’s obligations including guarantees of non-repetition, which contributes to prevention and deterrence of future attacks.

“SERAP urges the EFCC to work with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to set up a mechanism to monitor government’s spending of the safe school funds in order to ensure that the funds are spent exactly to prevent and deter future attacks, and to allow the girls to go back to school as soon as possible.

EFCC
Some EFCC officials

“SERAP is seriously concerned that the school has remained in a state of disrepair since the abduction of the girls, and students have remained at home.

“SERAP is concerned that the alleged diversion of 500 million naira meant for reconstruction of Government Girls School in Chibok has directly violated the right to education of the girls, as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

Breach Of Anti-corruption Legislation

“The diversion has undermined the obligation of the government to take step to the maximum of its available resources to achieve the right to education. The alleged diversion also shows a serious breach of anti-corruption legislation including the EFCC Act, and Nigeria’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption, and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption both of which the country has ratified.

“The EFCC should ensure full accountability and bring to justice anyone found to be responsible for corruption and diversion of safe school funds. The EFCC should also ensure that all proceeds of corruption are recovered and returned back to the treasury.

“This request is based on allegation by Governor Kashim Shettima that 500 million Naira set aside by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, is missing and cannot be accounted for.

Kashim Shettima, Sambisa, Borno, Military
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima

“The funds were released for rebuilding of the Government Girls School in Chibok under the Safe School Initiative programme, which was commissioned former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.

Court Grants Fani-Kayode, Nenadi Usman, Danjuma Yusuf Bail

Fani-KayodeThe Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has granted bail in the sum of 250 million Naira each, to Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, Former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman and Danjuma Yusuf who are being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly stealing and laundering about 4.9 billion Naira. 

Delivering his ruling on their bail application on Monday, the trial judge, Justice Sule Hassan held that there was no evidence that the defendants will interfere with trial if granted bail.

The judge also held that denying the defendants  bail, especially as the court’s vacation was near, and would span throughout the expiration of August, will not serve the interest of justice.

Justice Sule Hassan granted the defendants bail with two sureties each in like sum.
The sureties must own landed properties within the court’s jurisdiction and must present to the court, evidence of tax clearance.

The defendants were also ordered to deposit their passport in the custody of the court pending the determination of the case.

The offence which was allegedly committed between January 2015 and March 2015 is contrary to section 18(a) of the money laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and Punishable Under Section 15(3) & 4 of the same act.

The offense carries a minimum sentence of not less than 7years but not more 14 years jail term.

17 witnesses have been listed by the EFCC to testify against the defendants in proof of the charges.

Owing to the courts annual vacation which commences on Monday July 11, 2016 Justice Hassan has adjourned commencement of trial to October 19, 2016.

Ex-Minister Calls On Emefiele To Work With Ministry Of Finance

Zenith Bank Plc, CEO Godwin EmefieleFormer Minister of Finance, Dr Kalu Idika Kalu has advised the Central Bank Governor designate, Mr Godwin Emefiele to work in coordination with the Ministry of Finance, to achieve success in his tenure.

Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu spoke to business correspondent, Chimezie Obi-Iwuagwu, on Business Incorporated.

Reacting to the issue of the autonomy of the CBN, Dr Kalu Idika Kalu said that Nigeria, as a developing country, has not reached the stage where both the CBN and the Ministry of Finance can be independent.

He believes that Mr Emefiele would need to review the rules and regulations guiding the institution, understand the powers of the apex bank, and brush himself up in various macro-economic aggregates.