Rights watchdog, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called for an investigation into the 316 duplicated projects worth N39.5 billion.
In a report by social advocacy organisation BudgIT, there were 316 duplicated projects worth N39.5 billion, adding in its analysis that there were “other loopholes for corruption” in the 2021 budget.
Among the demands of SERAP includes the call for the questioning of the heads of the MDAs involved in the case, demanding why they “failed to ensure strict compliance with constitutional and international standards of transparency and accountability.”
The group said, “The misallocation of public funds for duplicated and mysterious projects has seriously undermined the ability of the indicted MDAs, and the government to ensure respect for Nigerians’ human rights through developing and implementing well-thought-out policies, plans, and budgets.
“BudgIT had in a report last week stated that there are 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5 billion in the 2021 budget. The duplicated and mysterious projects are contained in the 2021 appropriation bill of N13.588 trillion signed into law in December 2020.”
“These damning revelations suggest a grave violation of the public trust, and Nigerians’ rights to education, health, water, sanitation, and clean and satisfactory environment because the indicted MDAs have misallocated public funds at the expense of the people’s access to basic public services, and enjoyment of rights.
“SERAP urges you to ask the heads of the MDAs involved to explain why they allegedly failed to ensure strict compliance with constitutional and international standards of transparency and accountability in the preparation, processes and decisions on their budgets, and to return any misallocated public funds to the public treasury.
“Investigating and prosecuting any allegations of mismanagement, diversion and stealing of public funds budgeted for the 316 duplicated and mysterious projects would allow your government to use the budget to effectively promote Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services.
“Publishing the ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects would allow Nigerians to hold their government to account in the spending of public funds. This is particularly true for marginalized and excluded groups, such as people living in poverty, women, children, and persons with disabilities, as the budget has a disproportionate impact on their welfare.”
Government officials copied in the letter include the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye; the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, and the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed.
SERAP gave a two-week ultimatum, noting that if no response was received, then the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP would take legal actions to ensure that the government complied “with our request in the public interest.”
It said, “We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“SERAP also urges you to direct Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning to publish full details of current ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects, and any spending on the projects to date, including the 115 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Health; the 23 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Education, and 10 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Water Resources.”