The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to President Muhammadu Buhari and the 36 state governors, requesting them to use their “good offices and leadership positions to urgently provide information on specific details of spending of appropriated public funds as security votes between 2011 and 2019.”
In the separate requests sent to Buhari and the governors, SERAP said: “Given the current security realities in the country, we need the information to determine if public funds meant to provide security and ensure respect and protection of the rights to life, physical integrity, and liberty of Nigerians have been spent for this purpose. Our request is limited to details of visible, specific security measures and projects executed and does not include spending on intelligence operations.”
In the April 12 FoI requests, signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: ‘“Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), provides that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.’
“It is the security of the citizens that is intended and not the security of select individuals in public office. SERAP believes that transparency and accountability in the spending of security votes are critically important to fully implement this responsibility imposed on both the federal and state governments.
“We are concerned that, rather than serving the citizens, the appropriation of public funds, as security votes, over the years, would seem to serve high-ranking government officials at all levels—federal and states.
“We are also concerned that the practise of security votes entrusts discretionary powers to spend huge public funds on certain elected public officials who may not have any idea of operational issues on security matters.
“SERAP urges you to open up on the matter and provide information and documents as requested. This will be one step in the right direction.
“Unless the information is urgently provided, Nigerians would continue to see the appropriation of public funds as security votes and the institutionalisation of this cash in ‘Ghana Must Go bags’ practise as a tool for self-enrichment.
“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.
“If we have not heard from you, by then, the registered trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal action, under the FoI Act; to compel you to comply with our request.
“The most general purpose of state power is to provide security for citizens and other residents and to enable them lead a life that is meaningful to them.”