2017 Budget Padding: SERAP Calls Probe of Indicted Officers

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Nahimat Adekoga

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has raised alarm over alleged attempts to divert N40 billion from the N100 billion allocated by President Muhammadu Buhari as zonal intervention in the 2017 budget.

SERAP, meanwhile, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct anti-graft agencies to submit their report on alleged padding and diversion of N481 billion from the 2016 budget by National Assembly officials.

The organization in a letter to the President, signed by the deputy director, Timothy Adewale, issued a 14-day ultimatum to the government, saying failure to embark on the action, we will institute appropriate legal and public-interest proceedings to compel the government to discharge its national and international anti-corruption obligations and commitments in this matter.

SERAP also appealed to Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and anti-corruption agencies to commence prosecution of indicted officers; and to urgently halt alleged ongoing attempt by some principal officers of the National Assembly to divert N40 billion of the N100 billion allocated by your government as ‘zonal intervention’ in the 2017 budget.”

“Unless the principal officers indicted in the alleged padding of the 2016 budget are promptly prosecuted and any stolen public funds recovered, your government will not be able to stop the alleged ongoing attempts to steal from the 2017 budget. Alleged corruption in the budget process will not just melt away or simply evaporate without addressing the fundamental issue of impunity of perpetrators.

“Addressing alleged corruption in the budget process by pursuing prosecution of indicted principal officers of the National Assembly will provide an important opportunity for your government to reignite the fight against corruption and fulfil a cardinal campaign promise, to show that your government works on behalf of the many, and not the few, as well as jumpstart economic activities and break the back of the current recession.

“SERAP is also aware of the alleged risk of corruption involving the $2.5 budget oil bench mark increment which comes up to about N131 billion. The N131 billion will be appropriated to either reduce deficit or increase expenditure or both but unless the spending of the funds is closely monitored and scrutinized, the funds may be diverted, mismanaged or stolen.”

“SERAP is also concerned that deception in the budget process will continue unless Nigerians are granted access to inspect the budget process and other activities by the National Assembly. SERAP strongly believes that Nigerians have the right to know what their lawmakers are doing so that they are able to appraise their work and hold them to account.”

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