Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to order an investigation into the allegations that $3.4 billion loan obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is missing, diverted or unaccounted for.
SERAP is specifically urging President Tinubu to direct the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to carry out the probe.
The civil society organisation, which made the demand in an open letter addressed to the president and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said the investigation became necessary due to the 2020 annual audited report published last week by the Auditor-General of the Federation documents which revealed that there was no document to show the movement and spending of the IMF loan.
SERAP also urged the president to ensure that any indicted person should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence and any missing IMF loan should be fully recovered and returned to the public treasury.
The organisation stated that if after seven days of the receipt and publication of this letter President Tinubu failed to address issues raised, it shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel the federal government to comply with its request in the public interest.
It stated that any failure to investigate these grave allegations, bring suspected perpetrators to justice and recover any missing IMF loan would exacerbate the country’s debt burden.
The organisation also maintained that there is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations and that it is important that the government take these measures to end the impunity of perpetrators.
SERAP said servicing the IMF loan that is allegedly missing, diverted or unaccounted for is double jeopardy for Nigerians, who can neither see nor benefit from the projects for which the loan was approved; yet, they are made to pay both the loan and accrued interests.
The letter reads in part, “The Auditor-General recommends that the money be fully recovered and remitted to the public treasury and those suspected to be involved ‘sanctioned and handed over to anti-corruption agencies.
“The allegations of corruption in the spending of IMF loans documented by the Auditor-General undermine economic development of the country, trap the majority of Nigerians in poverty and deprive them of opportunities.
“The allegations suggest a grave violation of the public trust, the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), the country’s anti corruption legislation and international anti corruption obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption.
“According to the 2020 annual audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation published last week, the US$3.4 billion emergency financial assistance obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to finance the budget and manage the health crisis stemming from the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic may have been missing, diverted or unaccounted for.
“According to the Auditor-General, no information or document was provided to justify the movement and spending of the Fund.
“The auditor-general wants the money recovered and remitted to the public treasury and for the evidence of remittance to be forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly.
“The Auditor-General also recommends that anyone suspected to be involved should be ‘sanctioned and handed over to the EFCC and ICPC for investigation and prosecution, as provided for in paragraph 3112 of the Financial Regulations,” the group said.