Lagos, Nigeria – Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on President Bola Tinubu to initiate a thorough investigation into the alleged disappearance and unaccounted $2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion subsidy payments between 2016 and 2019.
In a statement released on Sunday, SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, emphasized the urgency of the matter. The organization urged President Tinubu to establish a presidential panel of enquiry to promptly address the alarming allegations raised by the Auditor-General of the Federation regarding the missing funds. The panel’s objective would be to identify and publicly expose those responsible for the widespread and systemic corruption in the management of public funds budgeted for fuel subsidies.
Furthermore, SERAP urged President Tinubu to ensure the effective prosecution of anyone implicated in the mismanagement of oil revenues and fuel subsidy payments, as well as the full recovery of any proceeds of crime. The organization stressed the importance of a thorough, independent, transparent, and effective investigation into all fuel subsidies provided by successive governments since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.
SERAP also recommended that any recovered proceeds of crime should be utilized as palliatives to mitigate the impact of subsidy removal on impoverished Nigerians. By addressing outstanding accountability issues and implementing policies to remove fuel subsidy through due process, President Tinubu can ensure justice and accountability for these alleged human rights crimes.
In a letter dated June 3, 2023, Oluwadare emphasized the necessity of bringing perpetrators of these crimes against Nigerians to justice and recovering any missing public funds. According to Oluwadare, “There will be no economic growth or sustainability without accountability for these serious allegations.”
SERAP cautioned that the arbitrary removal of fuel subsidy without addressing the underlying accountability concerns would further impoverish the poor and allow high-profile officials and non-state actors to evade punishment for their crimes.
Should President Tinubu fail to heed SERAP’s demand for an investigation within three days, the organization threatened to resort to legal action to ensure accountability and justice prevails.