The organization threatened legal options if president does not comply
A group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has requested President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently instruct the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, to monitor government’s spending on the fight against Boko Haram.
It said its demand was to ensure that the funds were spent accordingly – to end the unnecessary loss of lives and other continuing serious violations of human rights in that part of the country.
The group threatened to explore legal options, including the use of Freedom of Information, FoI, Act to improve transparency and accountability in the spending against Boko Haram if the president did not carry out its recommendation.
The group stated this in a statement by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, on Tuesday.
The Federal Government had last year declared a state of emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States in order to contain the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect in the states.
SERAP said it was seriously concerned about reports credited to the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, on Monday that the sect members were better armed and motivated than Nigerian troops.
“If true, it suggests that colossal sums of security funds that have so far been budgeted to prosecute the fight against Boko Haram have not achieved value for money”.
“SERAP is concerned that the funds may not have been appropriately spent. Lack of transparency in particular creates high vulnerability for corruption, especially in the procurement processes.
“SERAP believes that transparent and accountable in the management of funds meant to end the problem of Boko Haram is key to efficient and effective security forces capable of responding to Nigerians’ legitimate security needs,” the group said in a statement.
It noted that lack of transparency, accountability and general deficiencies in the way the security budget and arms purchases were decided and controlled could explain why the Boko Haram members were better equipped and more motivated than the government forces.
SERAP also stated that if Mr. Jonathan was truly determined to end the scourge and the associated human rights violations and sufferings, he should move immediately to invite the EFCC and ICPC to monitor the spending to fight Boko Haram, as well as check leakages in the procurement processes.
It argued that if the spending was not monitored the much needed economic or security benefits would not be achieved and would merely continue to consume scarce resources needed to address other basic needs of the population.
“SERAP hopes that the involvement of the anticorruption agencies would help to avoid excessive, wasteful and corrupt expenditures and procurement. The National Assembly should also be involved and should be more proactive in exercising its oversight constitutional roles in this respect,” the statement said.
“By increasing transparency and accountability of the spending on Boko Haram, the president will invariably be putting in place effective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace, stability and realization of citizens’ sacred human rights. The right to life is the supreme right of the human being. It is basic to all human rights and without it all other rights are without meaning.
“Increasing transparency and accountability in the spending on Boko Haram will also help to improve citizens’ confidence in the ability of the government to end the problem. The government cannot continue to use sensitivity or security concerns as an excuse to avoid the urgent need for transparency and accountability in this respect.”
The group also asked the government to inform Nigerians and the National Assembly regularly about the processes that the government was putting in place to improve practices, and to ensure effective investigations and prosecution for any allegations of corruption.