Millions of Naira are missing from the Ministry of Water Resources and some of its agencies, with a request to the minister Suleiman Adamu to institute a probe to recover the money.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in a Freedom of Information request to the Minister, urged him to “clarify the action that his Ministry has taken since the auditor-general of the Federation blew the whistle.
It said if the probe established corruption and mismanagement, the minister should refer the allegations to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for prosecution.
The organisation is also urging him to “ensure the full recovery of any missing public funds, revealed in the 2017 annual audited report by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”
In the FoI request dated 27 February 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the Ministry and its agencies can cause serious harm to the socially and economically vulnerable. Satisfactorily addressing these allegations and recovering any missing public funds is a critical matter of public health, human rights, transparency and accountability. The COVID-19 crisis makes this action all the more urgent.”
“Knowing how the Ministry has responded to the queries from the Auditor-General, and ensuring a thorough investigation and prosecution of these allegations would end impunity for corruption in the water sector, serve the public interest, as well as help to improve access of Nigerians to clean water and sanitation services.”
According to SERAP, “Millions of Nigerians continue to lack access to an improved water source and access to proper sanitation. Limited availability of water in public hospitals makes it difficult for health professionals and the public to wash their hands – restricting the ability of people to respond to COVID-19.”
The letter, read in part: “According to the Auditor-General’s Annual Report for 2017, Federal Ministry of Water Resources spent ₦343,957,350.60 without any documents. The Auditor-General is concerned that the money may be missing. The Ministry also reportedly spent ₦14,993,950.00 as advance cash to staff to buy store items and for services without due process.”
“The Federal College of Freshwater Fisheries Technology, New Bussa, Niger State also reportedly spent ₦33,652,281.00 to train 170 unemployed youths and women between 10th and 11th November 2016 without due process and without any documents on the names and number of those trained. There was no evidence to justify the spending.”
“The Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority, Makurdi reportedly ‘misapplied’ ₦42,277,285.50 meant for project monitoring and supervision. The Auditor-General is concerned that the money may ‘have been diverted for other purposes.’”
“The National Water Resources Institute, Mando Road, Kaduna reportedly paid ₦84,401,940.74 to a contractor on 4th May 2017, being 10% payment on the construction of a 2-story building for UNESCO. But there was no existing contract between the Institute and the contractor. The Institute also failed to show any documents on how the money was spent.”
“The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, Abuja reportedly paid ₦24,800,000.00 to a staff in September 2016 to produce the 2016 annual flood outlook (AFO) by Agency, but without any documents of the spending and evidence of the services performed. The Agency also paid ₦31,439,300.00 to another staff in September 2016 to organise sensitization workshops on 2016 flood prediction/prevention but without any documents. The Agency has also failed to retire the money.”
“We would be grateful if your Ministry would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.”
“If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your Ministry to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in the water sector.”