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Disclose Security Votes For 2021, SERAP Tells Buhari, Governors

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President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors have been asked to disclose the security votes for their states in 2021.

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) made this known in a statement issued on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

The group, in a Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, also asked the President and the governors to explain how the public funds would not be misused or embezzled in the name of security votes.

SERAP called on Nigerian leaders in various tiers of government to be honest to the citizens amid the numerous security challenges in the country.

It noted there is no constitutional or legal basis to keep basic information on public spending from the people in the name of national security.

SERAP said while the authorities may keep certain matters of operational secrets from the people, they should inform them how much was spent on security.

The statement noted: “Disclose details of proposed ‘security votes’ spending in your 2021 appropriation bills to ensure the security and welfare of Nigerians, and to explain the measures your governments are putting in place to prevent the misuse and embezzlement of public funds in the name of security votes.

“In the wake of the abduction of over 300 students from the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, and ongoing security challenges in several parts of the country, the time has come to demonstrate transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds meant to secure people’s lives and property.

“Disclosing details of spending as security votes for 2021 would serve to engage the Nigerian people in an honest conversation about the security challenges confronting the country, and what the federal and state governments are doing to respond to them. This is a legitimate public interest matter.”

It added: “While SERAP understands that authorities may keep certain matters of operational secrets from the people in the name of national security, there is no constitutional or legal basis to hide basic information on public spending from the people.

“We expressed concerns that the intense secrecy and lack of meaningful oversight of the government’s spending of security votes have for many years contributed to mismanagement and large-scale corruption in the sector, as well as limited the ability of the people to hold high-ranking public officials to account for their constitutional responsibility to ensure the security and welfare of the people.

“Your government’s responsibility to guarantee and ensure the security and welfare of the Nigerian people is closely interlinked with your responsibility under Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of office. This imposes a fundamental obligation to promote transparency and accountability in security votes spending, and to remove opportunities for corruption.