SERAP urges FG to commence inquest on alleged missing billions in water ministry

SERAP urges FG to commence inquest on alleged missing billions in water ministry

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has implored the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, to reveal the steps taken towards redressing the alleged billions of naira missing from his ministry and its agencies.

The group said if there was admissible evidence of corruption and mismanagement, the allegation should be referred to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for investigation as well as prosecution.

This call was contained in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request dated February 27, 2021, sent to the minister, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

SERAP also urged Adamu to ensure full recovery of any missing public funds, as revealed in the 2017 annual audited report by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

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Also, the organisation stated that allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the ministry and its agencies can cause serious harm to the socially as well as economically vulnerable.

In the letter copied to Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye and Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, the group said: “Satisfactorily addressing these allegations and recovering any missing public funds is a critical matter of public health, human rights, transparency, as well as accountability. The COVID-19 crisis makes this action all the more urgent.

“Knowing how the ministry has responded to the queries from the auditor-general; and ensuring a thorough investigation and prosecution of these allegations would end impunity for corruption in the water sector; and also serve the public interest; as well as help to improve access of Nigerians to clean water and sanitation services.”

According to SERAP, millions of Nigerians continue to lack access to an improved water source and proper sanitation.

Limited availability of water in public hospitals makes it difficult for health professionals and the public to wash their hands; restricting the ability of people to respond to COVID-19.

“According to the Auditor-General’s Annual Report for 2017, Federal Ministry of Water Resources spent ₦343,957,350.60 without any documents. The auditor-general is concerned that the money may be missing. The ministry also reportedly spent ₦14,993,950.00 as advance cash to staff to buy store items; and for services without due process.

“The Federal College of Freshwater Fisheries Technology, New Bussa, Niger State also reportedly spent ₦33,652,281.00; to train 170 unemployed youths and women between 10th and 11th November 2016; without due process and without any documents on the names and number of those trained. There was no evidence to justify the spending,” SERAP said in its statement.

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