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Group Urges ICPC To Probe Missing N500 billion SURE-P Funds

Ayo Balogun, Lagos

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to urgently begin a thorough and efficient investigation into allegations of corruption following a shortfall in the remittance of accrued funds for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) projects of over N500 billion from January 2012 to September 2013.

dollarsThe group also asked the commission to bring to justice suspected perpetrators. This was contained in a petition sent to the commission last week and was signed by the organization’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.

In the petition, SERAP said it was seriously concerned that the failure to account for the shortfall of about N500 billion out of the over N800 billion which ought to have accrued for the SURE-P projects was a flagrant denial of the social and economic development of millions of Nigerians.

According to the organization, the inability of government officials to account for huge amount of resources mapped out for the improvement of the country was a serious impediment and setback to the goals of development for which the SURE-P funds had been set aside to achieve in the first place, saying that the denial of the rights of millions of Nigerians had contributed hugely to extreme poverty and civil strife.

“The problem is compounded by the continuing failure of the government to effectively ensure transparency and a genuine system of accountability as well as its failure to investigate and prosecute those high ranking public officials suspected to be involved in corruption.

“The allegation of the missing funds constitutes a serious breach of the ICPC Act and the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party. We recall the heightened agitations which followed shortly after the announcement on the removal of oil subsidy in early 2012.

“The partial removal of oil subsidy targeted a list of developmental demands which the SURE-P funds was set up to meet.   The challenges created in the shortfall of funds accruing to the SURE-P and the shortfall in remittance to the SURE-P management team, as well as the failure to account for such shortfall is already an outright failure of government to allay the fears of millions of Nigeria against even a partial removal of oil subsidy,” the organization,” it stated.

The organization therefore asked the ICPC to carry out a comprehensive and transparent investigation of allegations of shortfall in the remittance of accrued SURE-P funds in the petroleum sector and to make public its findings as it believed this would serve as a necessary precursor to strengthening transparency and accountability and reducing the incidence of corruption in the sector.

Among others, SERAP said the investigation should seek to obtain the following information, such as “what happened to the shortfall of over N500bn? How much so far has been remitted to the SURE-P funds? What amount remains to be remitted to the SURE-P funds? What is the extent of complicity and responsibility of Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the remittance of the SURE-P funds? How much funds has been utilised by the SURE-P?”

It added that the ICPC should bring to justice all suspected perpetrators of corruption in the petroleum sector and vigorously engage policy makers and political leaders in developing an anti-corruption strategy, such as establishing an independent audit group for the purposes of ensuring and recovering the outstanding remittance recovered for the execution of SURE-P projects.

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