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SERAP writes Buhari on N4.5bn Kogi COVID-19 fund, recommends probe

By News Desk

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to probe alleged misuse of N4.5 billion COVID-19 funds by Kogi State Government.

Aside from Malami, the group also urged to direct appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate alleged misuse of the N4.5 billion donations, loans, and support the Kogi State government obtained from the Federal Government, including N90,720,000 reportedly spent on software to track COVID-19 cases in the state.

SERAP said that the investigation had become imperative to ensure the government sustains its anti-corruption fight, adding that if there was relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, anyone suspected to be involved should face prosecution, as appropriate.

Through a letter dated 27 March 2021 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said that probing the fund was constitutional, and would be entirely consistent with the president’s inaugural speech to ensure responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country.

According to him, taking the recommended measures would also show that your government is concerned with the overall well-being of the federation and willing and able to enforce important constitutional principles.

The letter, read in part: “Although primarily a matter of concern for Kogi State, the allegations of misuse of COVID-19 funds drawn from the Federal Government have assumed such a proportion as to become a matter of concern to the federation as a whole, and therefore, to your government.

“SERAP is concerned about growing allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds in several of the 36 states of the Federation, and the apparent lack of prompt, thorough, independent and transparent investigations into these allegations, allowing suspected perpetrators to frequently escape justice.

“Taking prompt action to probe the allegations would promote transparency and accountability, serve the common good, peace, order and good government of the federation (which includes Kogi State). It would help to enhance your government’s fight against corruption and contribute hugely to improving the public confidence and trust in your commitment to combat grand corruption.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request.”

The letter is copied to Mr Malami; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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