SERAP Wants ICPC To Probe Mismanagement Of N10B Loan By Reps


ABUJA, May 12, (THEWILL) - Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) requesting the Commission to “urgently begin a thorough, transparent and efficient investigation into allegations of corruption and mismanagement of the N10 billion loan obtained by the leadership of the House of Representatives on behalf of the House, and to bring to justice suspected perpetrators and recover the stolen public funds.”

In a petition dated 12 May 2011 and signed by SERAP Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the group said that, “We are seriously concerned that the fresh allegations are coming against the background of previous allegations of corruption including in the purchase of vehicles at #2.3b by the House of Representatives in 2008.

“We are also concerned that the above allegations constitute grave breaches of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Act of 2000; the Public Procurement Act 2007, and the UN Convention against Corruption which Nigeria has ratified. Specifically, the UN Convention against Corruption requires states parties, including Nigeria, to promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs,” the group said.

The group also said that “Effective investigation and prosecution of the fresh allegations alongside the previous allegations of corruption in the House of Representatives would help to address impunity of perpetrators, which is the single most important factor for the prevalence of high level official corruption in the country. Such impunity can be interpreted as the existence of interference of politicians to protect suspected perpetrators from prosecution.”

“Addressing high level official corruption effectively would also help to reduce or eliminate low level corruption among public servants in the country,” the group added

The group also expressed “concerns that allegations of corruption by law makers would undermine the credibility of the legislative process, and impede the ability of the current or future House of Representatives to effectively play its Constitutional oversight role or to provide the necessary leadership in the anti-corruption fight. The allegations also amount to a grave breach of Constitutional provisions and would undermine the Constitutional role of the House of Representatives to make laws for the good and development of the country.”

The group said that, “states parties must take measures to preserve the integrity of accounting books, records, financial statements or other documents related to public expenditure and revenue, and to prevent the falsification of such documents. The Convention also prohibits the abuse of functions or position, and imposes clear obligations on Nigeria to investigate allegations of corruption such as the present one; prosecute suspected perpetrators and ensure return and repatriation of proceeds of corruption.”

The group therefore asked the ICPC to: “Fully and transparently investigate the allegations of corruption highlighted above, and to make public the stage of its investigation of the allegation of corruption in the N10bn loan obtained by the leadership of the House of Representatives.

“Make public the findings of its investigation into the fresh allegations, and all the previous allegations of corruption in the House of Representatives; and ensure the recovery of any money that is the subject of corruption, and ensure that those suspected to be responsible are brought to justice.

According to information, the leadership of the House of Representatives took out N10bn loan allegedly without consultation with the members. The money is reportedly missing or cannot be accounted for. As a result, members’ remunerations remain unpaid. The official bank of the House, United Bank for Africa, had reportedly withheld the second quarter allocation of all 360 members of the House and the emolument of the 11 re-admitted legislators owing to the indebtedness.

The statement said some members of the House interviewed by SERAP said that they were told by the bank where the salaries of members were domiciled that the money for House of Representatives allowances had been paid by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), but because the House was indebted to the bank, it refused to pay the members’ entitlements. It is also alleged that some principal officers of the House collected the loans without the consent of members.

The House of Representatives today cleared Dimeji Bankole and the leadership of the House of all charges of fraud.