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Probe missing N500m Chibok safe school funds, SERAP tasks EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been charged by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to probe the circumstances that calumniated in the loss of the N500m allocated for the safe school scheme in Chibok town, Borno State.

In a letter sent to the EFCC and obtained by TheNewsGuru.com, the civil organisation petitioned the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, to “urgently begin a thorough, transparent and effective investigation into allegation that N500 million Safe School funds for Chibok girls, commissioned by former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to rebuild the Government Girls School in Chibok, is missing and cannot be accounted for.”

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The request is a sequel to an allegation by Governor Kashim Shettima that N500 million set aside by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, is missing and cannot be accounted for. The funds were released for rebuilding of the Government Girls School in Chibok under the Safe School Initiative programme, which was commissioned former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The organisation urged the EFCC to “invite for questioning, and name and shame anyone suspected to be involved in the alleged diversion, including the contractors allegedly handling the project.”

According to the petition signed by SERAP’s senior staff attorney Timothy Adewale, “The allegation that N500m has been lost to corruption has resulted in denying the girls access to education, and shows the failure of the former President Goodluck Jonathan government to live up to Nigeria’s commitments under the global Safe School Declaration.”

The organisation said it believes that the diversion of the funds will expose the school to attacks in the future, saying it “is a fundamental breach of the country’s obligations including guarantees of non-repetition, which contribute to prevention and deterrence of future attacks.”

It, therefore, urged the EFCC to collaborate with other anti-graft agencies in unravelling the mysteries behind the diversion of the fund.

“SERAP urges the EFCC to work with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to set up a mechanism to monitor government’s spending of the safe school funds in order to ensure that the funds are spent exactly to prevent and deter future attacks, and to allow the girls to go back to school as soon as possible.”

Highlighting the effect of the fund diversion, SERAP said that both the government and people of Chibok are at a loss.

“…the alleged diversion of N500m meant for reconstruction of Government Girls School in Chibok has directly violated the right to education of the girls, as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The diversion has undermined the obligation of the government to take step to the maximum of its available resources to achieve the right to education. The alleged diversion also shows a serious breach of anticorruption legislation including the EFCC Act, and Nigeria’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption both of which the country has ratified.”

“The EFCC should ensure full accountability and bring to justice anyone found to be responsible for corruption and diversion of safe school funds. The EFCC should also ensure that all proceeds of corruption are recovered and returned back to the treasury.”

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