Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to probe allegations that $3.4 billion loan obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is missing, diverted or unaccounted for.
SERAP also urged the President to ensure that anyone suspected to be responsible 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.
Recall that the 2020 yearly audited report, published last week by the Auditor-General of the Federation, documents damning revelations, including that there was no document to show the movement and spending of the IMF loan.
In a letter at the weekend, signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said there was a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations. Taking these important measures, he said, would end the impunity of perpetrators.
SERAP said servicing IMF loans allegedly missing, diverted or unaccounted for is double jeopardy for Nigerians.
According to the body, failure to investigate these grave allegations, bring suspected perpetrators to justice and recover any missing IMF loan would have serious resource allocation and exacerbate the country’s debt burden.
It stated that the Auditor-General had recommended that the money be fully recovered and remitted to the public treasury and those suspected to be involved ‘sanctioned and handed over to anticorruption 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.”
The organisation noted that the consequences of corruption are felt by citizens on a daily basis adding that corruption exposes them to additional costs to pay for health, education and administrative services.
SERAP notes that the Federal Government has a sacred duty to ensure that the country’s loans, including those obtained from the IMF, are transparently and accountably used solely for the purposes for which the loans are obtained, and for the effective development of public goods and services as well as the general public interests.