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‘Explain how petroleum ministry spent N116m on pens, others’

By Esezobor Okaima, Abuja

• SERAP urges Buhari, Sylva to probe contracts……

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, to probe how N116 million was spent to buy biros, letterhead and toners in 2015.

The organisation also urged the duo to disclose the amount spent on the same items between 2016 and 2020.

It asked them to refer the matter to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for prosecution, “if there is evidence of misuse of public funds”.

In the letter, dated December 12, 2020 by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organioation said: “The Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the UN Convention against Corruption and African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption require the government to ensure that Nigeria’s resources are used effectively and efficiently, and in a manner consistent with the public interest”.

SERAP said: “An effective and efficient ministry ought to keep careful track of how it spends public money, and put in place a system to eliminate corruption, mismanagement, unnecessary, inefficient, or unreasonable expenditures.

“Transparency and openness in the spending by your Ministry would ensure the public trust, efficient, effective and competent delivery of public goods and services. Openness in the spending by your Ministry will also strengthen the country’s democracy and promote efficiency and integrity in government.”

The letter copied to Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), reads: “Any allegations of misuse of public funds may constitute serious misconduct that impairs the efficiency of your ministry, and undermines public confidence in the ability of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to provide essential public goods and services to Nigerians.

“SERAP is concerned that the allegations by the Office of the Auditor-General raises serious violations of anti-corruption legislation, the Nigerian Constitution and international anti-corruption standards.”

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