Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to “direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and/or appropriate anti-corruption agencies to urgently investigate corruption allegations in the use of the monthly federal allocations to the 774 local governments in the country through the 36 state governors and the Federal Capital Territory.”
SERAP also sought investigations into “the alleged complicity of state governors in corruption cases involving local government allocations between 1999 and 2019, and if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, for suspected perpetrators to be prosecuted by anti-corruption agencies and any stolen public funds recovered and used to provide public goods and services.”
SERAP’s letter followed the reported arrest last week by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of 16 local government chairmen in Kwara state, who were suspended by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq. They allegedly misappropriated N4 billion loan meant for paying teachers’ salaries and local government pensioners.
In the letter dated 1 November 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Investigating state governors and local government chairmen over allegations of corruption and abuse of power in the use of federal allocations meant to provide public goods and services would best serve the general public interests and welfare.”
SERAP said: “We request that you take the recommended action within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will institute legal proceedings to compel your government to act in the public interest.”
SERAP also said: “Our request is based on the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), the country’s anti-corruption legislation and international obligations, particularly the UN Convention against Corruption. Section 7(6)(a) of the constitution anticipates allocation of public revenue to the 774 local governments in the country. The proposed investigations and prosecution do not offend the constitutional principles of federation in any way, shape or form.”
SERAP also said: “Your government is empowered to use the provisions of the constitution, anti-corruption legislation and international standards to check cases of corruption and abuse of power nationwide, including by state and local governments. This position is entirely consistent with the doctrine of covering the field, as it vindicates the true practice of federalism.”