The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, to account for how the ministry spent N116 million on pens, letterheads and toners in 2015.
SERAP in a statement on Sunday asked President Buhari and Mr Sylva to refer the matter to appropriate anti-corruption agencies if there is evidence of misuse of public funds..
The body made the call in response to a report by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation indicting the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, on Thursaday last week, told a Senate Public Accounts Committee that the Ministry spent N116m to buy pens, letterhead and toners in one year.
The statement read in part: “The Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], the UN Convention against Corruption require the government to ensure that Nigeria’s resources are used effectively and efficiently, and in a manner consistent with the public interest.
“An effective and efficient ministry ought to keep careful track of how it spends public money, and put in place a system to eliminate corruption, mismanagement, unnecessary, inefficient, or unreasonable expenditures.
“Transparency and openness in the spending by your Ministry would ensure the public trust, efficient, effective and competent delivery of public goods and services, as well as strengthen the country’s democracy and promote efficiency and integrity in government.
“Any allegations of misuse of public funds may constitute serious misconduct that impairs the efficiency of your Ministry, and undermines public confidence in the ability of ministries, departments and agencies [MDAs] to provide essential public goods and services to Nigerians.”
“A democratic government accountable to the people must be as transparent as possible and must not withhold information for self-serving reasons or simply to avoid embarrassment.
“We would be grateful if you would indicate the measures being taken to probe the spending of N116m on biros, letterhead and toners in 2015, and disclose the total amount spent on the same items between 2016 and 2020 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 Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your Ministry to implement these recommendations in the interest of transparency and accountability.”