SERAP

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the presidency to direct the justice and finance minister to publish more details into the alleged fraud and stealing of some of the N1 trillion budgeted for the Social Investments Programme (SIP).

The publication should also include the exact amount of the $321m of the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha recently returned by Switzerland, affected by the fraud.

SERAP also urged the presidency to “instruct appropriate authorities to publish details of how his government plans to spend and monitor the spending of the $85m returned by the United Kingdom from the controversial Malabu deal involving $1.6bn, so as to remove the risks of corruption or mismanagement of the money.”

The Special Adviser on SIP, Maryam Uwais, had last week reportedly disclosed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was invited to probe ‘massive fraud’ and other corrupt practices like short-changing, racketeering, harassment of beneficiaries and exploitation of the vulnerable plagued the scheme in some states.

SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale said in a statement: “While we welcome the reported disclosure of fraud and corruption in the SIP and the request to the EFCC to probe the allegations, we are concerned that sufficient details about the allegations have not been disclosed. Nigerians have the right to know more about the allegations, including the names of the states involved, and whether the recently returned $321m Abacha loot was affected by the reported fraud and corruption.”

According to the organization, “It is important for the government to identify and remove the risks of corruption in the SIP as fast as possible and let Nigerians know the exact steps the authorities are taking to protect public funds, including the returned Abacha loot, in the implementation of the SIP. Part of this could include naming and shaming the states and contractors involved, to serve as deterrent to others and to preserve the integrity of the SIP.”

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