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SERAP urges FG to investigate ecological funds

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly and thoroughly investigate the spending of Ecological Fund by government at all levels—federal, state and local governments from 2001 to date.”

SERAP said, “Suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any missing public funds should be fully recovered.” 

In a statement on Sunday, SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare said the Organization’s letter followed reports that the ravaging flooding in some parts of the country has resulted in the loss of over 600 lives, displacement of more than a million people, and destruction of properties worth billions. The most affected states include Anambra, Delta, Kogi, Rivers, Benue, Yobe, Cross River and Bayelsa.

“Trillions of ecological funds have allegedly gone down the drain. The resulting human costs directly threaten human rights – rights to life and to a place to live – rights that your government has an obligation to protect.”

“Irrespective of the cause of a threat to human rights, your government still has positive obligations to use all the means within its disposal to uphold the human rights of those affected.”

“Although ecological funds are shared across the three tiers of government, and emergency management agencies, the funds are managed and supervised by the Federal Government.”

“Your government has the legal obligations to hold all tiers of government and emergency management agencies to account, and to trace, find, and recover any missing ecological funds’’, the letter read.

SERAP urged the government to ‘’use all means available to it to prevent and address the threats to human rights that result from climate change, and to provide access to effective remedies for victims when these rights are violated.”

Investigate monies spent

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

“Climate change also has the potential to exacerbate existing threats to human rights in the country. Rising global temperatures will jeopardize many people’s livelihoods, increasing their vulnerability to poverty and social deprivation.”

“In order to uphold its constitutional and international human rights obligations, your government must respond to the impacts of the flooding, and of climate change generally.”

“According to the audit of the Ecological Fund Office carried out by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, (NEITI), the total amount allocated and received by the fund from December 2011 to November 2016 was N277 billion.”

“The operations of the Fund from 2012 to 2016 reportedly showed that some of the disbursements were not utilised for the purpose for which it was established. During these periods, N74,170,932,645.20 was released to State Governments to solve ecological problems in their States.”

According to the Organization ‘’impunity for corruption in the management of Ecological Fund will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes. It is by pursuing these allegations and taking the evidence before the court that the truth will be revealed and justice best served.”

SERAP therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct Mr. Malami and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to urgently identify and ensure access to justice and effective remedies to affected victims.”

It also urged the President to direct Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Federal Government to publish details of allocations from the Ecological Fund to the Federal Government, the 36 state governments, Abuja, the 774 local government areas of the country, and the National Emergency Management Agency, as well as state emergency management agencies between 2001 to date.”

SERAP appealed to him to instruct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor the spending of Ecological Fund by the 36 state governors, the 774 local government areas, as well as all emergency management agencies across the country funded through the Ecological Fund.”

SERAP said the Publication of the details of allocations of Ecological Fund since 2001 would promote transparency, accountability, and reduce the risks of corruption in the spending of the funds.”

Writing by Annabel Nwachukwu