Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has raised an alarm that some elements within the National Assembly are planning to steal N40 billion of the N100 billion allocated by the government as ‘zonal intervention’ (also known as constituency projects) in the 2017 budget.”

In an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, SERAP requested the president to use his good offices and leadership position to urgently instruct security and anti-corruption agencies to forward reports of their completed investigations into allegations of padding and stealing of some N481 billion from the 2016 budget by some principal officers of the National Assembly.

“Corruption in the budget process takes away and erodes much needed resources for public and developmental purposes. SERAP is seriously concerned about the level of secrecy surrounding the budget process in the National Assembly, which has invariably created a breeding place for alleged corruption.”

“Secrecy in the National Assembly has clearly gone beyond the level permitted by law, and apparently served as the incubator for corruption, while depriving the Nigerian people of a much-needed opportunity to cleanse the National Assembly of persistent allegations of corruption.”

“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 scrutinised, 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.”

SERAP therefore asked President Buhari to:

1. Urgently instruct security and anti-corruption agencies to forward to him reports of their investigations into allegations of padding and stealing of some N481 billion from the 2016 budget by some principal officers of the National Assembly, and to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, SAN, and/or appropriate anti-corruption agencies to without delay commence prosecution of indicted officers;

2. Direct the publication of the report of investigations by security and anti-corruption bodies into the alleged padding of the 2016 budget

3. Urgently halt alleged ongoing attempt by some principal officers of the National Assembly to steal N40 billion of the N100 billion allocated by your government as ‘zonal intervention’ in the 2017 budget;

4. Closely monitor and scrutinise the spending of N131 billion (accrued from increased oil bench mark) allocated for additional non-constituency projects expenditure, to remove the possibility of corruption

Source: Per Second News