The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has alleged that some state governors use insecurity as an excuse to steal public funds.
Mr Magu said this while making a presentation on corruption, on Tuesday, at the induction ceremony organised by the Nigerian Governors Forum in Abuja for newly-elected governors.
He said the climate of insecurity and terrorism promotes corruption in Nigeria and some “state governors are cashing in” on the development.
“…We also have evidence of theft by some state governors cashing in on the insecurity in their states. In fact, there are speculations in some quotas that some governors conversely promote insecurity in their state to inflate their security votes,” the EFCC boss said.
“I am not going to enter deeply into the debate on security votes. What is important is that what is expected of governors as chief security officers of the state is to be cautious and transparent in utilising public funds.”
Security votes are state funds governors use to tackle security challenges in their states. It has been criticised as fuelling corruption since the amounts are never made public and not accounted for.
However, Nigeria’s 36 state governors have also in the past asked for a raise in the controversial ‘security votes’ drawn from their state budgets.
They cited the escalating violence by terrorist groups and internal crisis in making the demands.
Nuhu Ribadu, a former head of the EFCC, advised the governors to avoid cash transaction, including with security votes, saying public funds should not be spent recklessly.
He spoke immediately after Mr Magu during Tuesday’s induction.
Insecurity, ‘Right Oxygen’ for Corruption
Mr Magu said insecurity has offered the ‘right oxygen’ for corruption to thrive. He said this is evident in the Nigerian arms deal scandal.
“There is a nugget between corruption and terrorism financing. Corruption promotes insecurity.”
He said the insurgency in the North-east is a byproduct of corruption. He also said the problem of militancy in the Niger Delta is caused by corruption.
The official revealed how billions of naira were lost through the Niger Delta commission.
After reeling out figures of looted funds that have been recovered from corrupt officials, Mr Magu said several convictions have been recorded.
He, however, said it may be difficult to put a figure on how much was lost to corrupt officials.