Reveal N625bn reimbursement expenses, SERAP tells N’Delta governments – Punch Newspapers

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has urged the nine oil-producing states in Nigeria to “provide and widely publish the details of the expenditure of the N625bn oil bypass rebates recently paid by the Federal Government, including details and locations of the executed projects. with the money.”

The federal government recently paid 625.43 billion naira in oil diversion rebates to the governors of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Ondo, Imo and Cross River states. Payments covered 13 percent of the oil diversion, subsidy, and SURE-P reimbursements. Refunds date from 1999 to 2021.

In the open letter dated December 19, 2022 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “It is in the public interest to publish the details of the reimbursement spending. Nigerians have a right to know how their states spend the refunds. It is part of their legally enforceable human rights.”

SERAP said: “Releasing the information would allow Nigerians to scrutinize the spending of refunds. Publication of the details of oil bypass reimbursements would also promote transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds.”

The letter read in part: “The wide publication of the details of the expenditure of reimbursements derived from oil extraction would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are accountable to the people for the performance of their duties in the management of public funds.

“We would appreciate if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP will take all appropriate legal action to compel you and your state to comply with our request in the public interest.

“The public interest in obtaining information about expenses related to oil bypass reimbursements outweighs any privacy or other interest. The oversight afforded by public access to such details would serve as an important check on your state’s activities and help prevent abuses of the public trust.

“SERAP also urges you to disclose details of the spending of refunds to local government councils through state accounts, and explain the role your government played in the spending of public funds earmarked for councils.

“The constitutional principle of democracy also provides a basis for the right of Nigerians to know the details of oil rebate spending. The citizens’ right to know promotes openness, transparency and accountability which, in turn, are crucial to the country’s democratic order.

“The effective functioning of representative democracy depends on the people being able to scrutinize, discuss, and contribute to government decision-making, including on the spending of refunds derived from oil extraction.

“To do this, they need information that allows them to participate more effectively in the management of public funds by their state governments.

“The Freedom of Information Act, Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee everyone the right to information, including how reimbursements from oil diversion are spent.

“Under a combined reading of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, the Freedom of Information Act 2011 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, applicable throughout Nigeria, there are transparency obligations imposed on your state to publish the details of the expense of oil diversion returns.

“Nigeria’s Constitution, the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s anti-corruption and human rights obligations are based on the principle that citizens should have access to information about their government’s activities.

“Your state cannot hide under the excuse that the Freedom of Information Act is not applicable to your state for refusing to provide the details that are requested, as your state also has clear legal obligations to provide the information as prescribed by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution. , and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ratification and implementation) Act.

“SERAP urges you to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Commission on Corrupt Practices and Other Related Crimes to jointly track and monitor the spending of oil diversion reimbursements by your state.

“SERAP also urges you to provide details on the transparency and accountability mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure that referral reimbursements are not mishandled, diverted or stolen again.

“According to our information, under the 13 percent bypass fund, Abia State received N4.8 billion; Akwa-Ibom received N128 billion; and Bayelsa got N92.2 billion. Cross River got a refund of N1.3 billion; Delta State received N110 billion; Edo State received N11.3billion; Imo State 5.5 billion naira, Ondo State 19.4 billion naira; and Rivers State received N103.6 billion.

“On the diversion fund of 13 percent on deductions made by NNPC, Abia State received N1.1 billion; Akwa-Ibom, 15 billion naira; Bayelsa, 11.6 billion naira; Cross River, N432m; Delta State, N14.8 billion; Edo State, 2.2 billion naira; and Imo State, N2.9, billion. Ondo State received 3.7 billion Naira while Rivers State received 12.8 billion Naira.

“The nine states also received N4.7 billion each, for a total of N42.34 billion as reimbursements for withdrawals of subsidies and SURE-P from 2009 to 2015. The Federation Account also paid N3.520 million each as reimbursement to local government councils for subsidy withdrawals and SURE-P from 2009 to 2015.”

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