Home News Tinubu urged to probe payment of N159b into private accounts by MDAs

Tinubu urged to probe payment of N159b into private accounts by MDAs

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President Bola Tinubu has been urged to extend enquiry into all government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) indicted for paying over N159 billion public funds into private accounts in violation of financial transparency laws.

The call is coming on the heels of a recent investigative report by Premium Times and data published by Govspend, a platform tracking government spending, which exposed how over 20 MDAs paid at least N159.6 billion into private accounts in six years.

In January, President Bola Tinubu suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu following public outrage over the disclosure that she approved the payment of N585.2 million public funds into a private account

Legal practitioner, Chidi Onwuekweikpe led the call for the Tinubu administration to confront financial impropriety and impunity in MDAs during the anti-corruption radio programme, Public Conscience, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG), on Wednesday in Abuja.

While condemning the trend of officials paying public funds into private accounts, Onwuekweikpe said the current administration must “sit up and rise to the occasion” to tame corruption in the public sector, adding that the country needs a sincere and patriotic public service.

He noted that the ripple effect of people not being punished for wrongdoings over time was responsible for disregarding financial regulations and impunity in the public service.

Onwuekweikpe advised President Tinubu and his administration “to go all out against corrupt elements and think of Nigeria.

“If this government is serious about fighting corruption, they should, first of all, ensure that nobody gets away with any wrongdoing, no matter how long it goes. No matter how long it takes.

“We have seen the government telling us that they are fighting corruption. Now, there are so many people who are in government that have files at EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), police, and the government is aware. It’s public knowledge. They are all public documents”.

On why public servants disregard financial regulations, the legal practitioner said: “We have a serious shortage of patriotism in Nigeria. People look at their pockets first before the interest of the country.

“Nothing says that the person should not say, let’s follow the due process. Where are the documents for me to sign so that this money goes directly from the ministry into my account, not through an individual who works there?

“We have beautiful laws against all sorts of, creating all sorts of crimes. But people do the same thing because they know they will get away with it. You see, there is no difference between the man walking the streets of London and the man walking the streets of Abuja. We all have the same human DNA. But the man in London will not flout the law because he knows that whoever he is, the law will always catch up with him. But the man walking the streets of Abuja could make a phone call and get away with whatever he has done”.

Onwuekweikpe commended the Federal Government for ordering full implementation of the Stephen Oronsaye report, which will see the merging, subsuming, scraping and relocation of several government agencies. He, however, urged Tinubu to be holistic in his approach by cutting down the size of his ministers

He also urged the government to start from scratch to teach children integrity to build a better society, tasking the National Orientation Agency to be alive to their responsibility.

Premium Times journalist Yakubu Mohammed joined the call for President Tinubu to probe MDAs indicted of paying public funds into private accounts immediately, lamenting that the government was yet to take any action weeks after the report was published.

According to him, the President is aware that over N159 billion was reportedly paid into private accounts in six years and “if he is serious, people that are complicit should be punished.”

He noted that the investigation exposed how porous the system is to financial misappropriation while calling on the administration to pay more attention to the activities of MDAs.

“Let a thorough investigation be done, and people that are complicit should be punished for it.

“It’s not a one-man show. He (Tinubu) has to look thoroughly into the MDAs. There is a need to reposition some officers but let there be stringent punishment for all this kind of vices.

“I think one of the things responsible is just an outright aberration of the law when there is weak punishment”, Mohammed stressed.

According to the Premium Times‘ report, MDAs that paid millions into individual accounts include the EFCC, Police formations and commands, Nigeria Police Academy Wudil, Kano, National Directorate of Employment, National Commission for Refugees, Auditor General for the Federation, National Commission for Persons with Disability, Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Federal Character Commission, Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Budget Office of the Federation and National Human Rights Commission.

Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio programme PRIMORG uses to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.

The programme has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.

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