SERAP Asks Jonathan To Invite Anti-graft Agencies To Monitor Spending On Boko Haram

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, urging him to “urgently instruct both the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to monitor government’s spending on the fight against Boko Haram”.

According to the organisation, this would help “to ensure that the funds are spent exactly to end the unnecessary loss of lives and other continuing serious violations of human rights in the north-east.”

In the petition dated February 18, 2014, and signed by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said that it was “seriously concerned about reports that the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, this week stated that “Boko Haram members were better armed and motivated than Nigerian troops.”

If true, it suggests that colossal sums of security funds that have so far been budgeted to prosecute the fight against Boko Haram have not achieved value for money. SERAP is concerned that the funds may not have been appropriately spent.

Transparency And Accountability

According to the organisation, “If the president is truly determined to end the problem of Boko Haram and the associated human rights violations and sufferings, he should now move to invite the EFCC and ICPC to monitor the spending to fight Boko Haram, including checking leakages in the procurement processes. Otherwise, any such spending will not provide the much needed economic or security benefits, and will merely continue to consume scarce resources needed to address other basic needs of the population.”

“Increasing transparency and accountability in the spending on Boko Haram will also help to improve citizens’ confidence in the ability of the government to end the problem. The government cannot continue to use sensitivity or security concerns as an excuse to avoid the urgent need for transparency and accountability in this respect.

“Lack of transparency in particular creates high vulnerability for corruption, especially in the procurement processes. SERAP believes that transparency and accountability in the management of funds meant to end the problem of Boko Haram is key to efficient and effective security forces capable of responding to Nigerians’ legitimate security needs. Lack of transparency, accountability and general deficiencies in the way the security budget and arms purchases are decided and controlled are likely to be one explanation why the Boko Haram are better equipped and more motivated than the government forces,” the letter read.

The organisation “hopes that the involvement of the anti-corruption agencies would help to avoid excessive, wasteful and corrupt expenditures and procurement.  The National Assembly should also be involved and should be more proactive in exercising its oversight constitutional roles in this respect.”

“By increasing transparency and accountability of the spending on Boko Haram, the President will invariably be putting in place effective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace, stability and realisation of citizens’ sacred human rights.  The citizens and National Assembly must be regularly informed about government’s spending on Boko Haram, and the processes that the government is putting in place to improve practices, and to ensure effective investigations and prosecution of any allegations of corruption,” the organisation added.

It further warned that “SERAP will explore other legal options including the Freedom of Information Act to improve transparency and accountability in the spending on Boko Haram, if the President does not act as recommended.”

Court Orders Farouk Lawan, Emenalo To Stand Trial For $620,000 Bribery

An Abuja High Court has dismissed the application to quash bribery charges filed against former chairman of the House of Representatives on Fuel Subsidy scam, Farouk Lawan, and the committee’s secretary Boniface Emenalo, over the receipt of $620,000 bribe from oil mogul; Femi Otedola.

Presiding Judge; Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi on Friday, rejected the application in favor of the prosecution, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission, ICPC, on the three grounds.

The court ruled that it has jurisdiction, as there is evidence of crime against the defendants and that the charges are not an abuse of court process.

Counsel to the lawmakers said he would consult with his clients before deciding on appeal.

The two lawmakers were accused of demanding and collecting $620, 000 bribe from Mr Otedola, to remove the name of his companies  from the list of companies culpable in fuel subsidy fraud.


$620,000 Fuel Subsidy Bribe: Judge Fails To Rule On Farouk Lawan’s Trial

Ruling on an application to quash the charges against former chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on fuel subsidy; Farouk Lawan and the committee’s secretary, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, was stalled on Thursday as the trial judge, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, could not deliver the anticipated ruling owing to bereavement.

An official of the Abuja High confirmed the development to journalist in Abuja and consequently, May 10, was fixed as new date for ruling on the pending application by Lawan and Emenalo.

The duo seeks to have the court quash the 7-count charge preferred against them by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

The anti-corruption agency had put Lawan and Emenalo on trial for allegedly collecting the sum of $620, 000 as bribe from chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas, Mr. Femi Otedola, to delete the names of the latter’s companies (Zenon Petroleum and Gas as well as Synopsis Enterprises Limited), from the list of companies allegedly found to have defrauded the Federal Government of billions of naira.

The defendants however argued that the commission has not established any prima facie case against them to necessitate or warrant their being put to trial.

Their argument was canvassed by their counsel, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), who urged the court to discharge the defendants on the ground that the prosecutor failed to comply with Section 155 (1)(B) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

The application had stalled commencement of trial at the last court hearing, as defence counsel had persuaded the court to hear the aforesaid application first, before going into trial proper.

ICPC invites Ogun’s Speaker over contract inflation

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), has summoned the Speaker of the Ogun State, House of Assembly, Mr Suraj Adekunbi, to appear before them today over alleged car contract inflation.

28 Toyota Avensis vehicles were purchased for 26 members at N6 million

Others invited are the clerk of the house, Mr. Muyiwa Adenopo, the Deputy Clerk and some other principal officers of the assembly.

They are being invited over an alleged inflation of car contract of 28 Toyota Avensis purchased for the 26 members of the state assembly and two principal officers as official vehicles at N6 million each.

This was confirmed by the resident media consultant of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Folu Olamiti, to journalists in Abeokuta.

He said the commission was acting on a petition written against the leadership of the house.

The Speaker and other invitees are expected to appear before the head of investigation unit of the ICPC in Abuja.

Jonathan swears in Nta as ICPC chairman

President Goodluck Jonathan  has sworn in  Mr Ekpo Nta as  the new and substantive chairman  of  the  Independent  Corrupt  Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), with a charge that he should  not disappoint the nation in the fight against corruption.

Mr Nta who was in September confirmed by the National Assembly, has been Acting Chairman of the commission for over a year.

He was sworn in alongside four permanent secretaries just before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council meeting in the council chambers.

President Jonathan observed that corruption was one of the stumbling blocks in the nation’s development efforts and that Mr Nta has a unique position to make history in the fight against corruption.

The president also used the occasion to plead with all Nigerians to confront corruption in all its ramifications no matter where they find themselves.