Insecurity: ‘Probe alleged misuse of security votes by Governors’ – SERAP tells Buhari

Amnesty Int’l, Human Rights Watch, CSOs, others express solidarity

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, (SAN) and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly and thoroughly investigate allegations of systemic mismanagement of security votes by state governors.

According to SERAP, “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.”

Buhari had in his 2022 New Year Message raised concerns about “the persistent insecurity in certain parts of the country,” and promised to “remain resolute in our commitments” to give “utmost attention to the problem.”

In the letter dated 1 January 2022 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The most satisfactory and effective way to demonstrate the oft-repeated commitments to address the insecurity in the country is to promptly and thoroughly probe persistent allegations of corruption in the spending of security votes by state governors.”

SERAP, amongst others, 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 the promises to ensure the security of Nigerians, and to keep them safe.”

“Successive governments have failed to effectively discharge their primary and constitutional responsibility to protect the lives and property of the Nigerian people. This is patently contrary to Section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution, which provides that: ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’.”

“Against the background of well-documented cases of abduction, killings and ongoing security challenges in several parts of the country, the time has come to end the culture of impunity for allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds meant to ensure the security of life and property of Nigerians.”

“Similarly, your government’s responsibility to guarantee and ensure the security and welfare of the Nigerian people is interlinked with the responsibility under Section 15(5) of the Constitution to ‘abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of office.’ This imposes a fundamental obligation to ensure accountability for the spending of security votes by state governors.”

“While sitting state governors may enjoy immunity from arrest and prosecution, they do not enjoy immunity from investigation. Any allegations of mismanagement of security votes against sitting governors can and should be investigated pending the time they leave office and lose immunity. The findings of such investigation can also be the basis for initiating impeachment proceedings against any indicted governor.”

“SERAP urges you to instruct the 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.”

“SERAP notes that in your 2022 New Year message to Nigerians, you raised concerns about ‘the persistent insecurity in certain parts of the country,’ and the effects on the socio-economic conditions of millions of people, as well as promised to ‘remain resolute in our commitments’ to give ‘utmost attention’ to the problem, and to address ‘human security at the grassroots”.

The letter was copied to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

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