An anti-corruption coalition group, Centre for Peace, Transparency and Accountability (CPTA), has uncovered a series of “suspicious and instalmental illegal” payments into private accounts at the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER).
It is therefore asking the agency to answer clarify the “misappropriation of funds in its operations over the years, amounting to millions of naira”.
A letter by Comrade Patrick Ogheneyero, Executive Director of CPTA, to Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, the Director-General of NISER, seen by FIJ, wondered why some expenditures by NISER do not only contravene the extant financial regulation of the Federal Government but are also “considered antithetical to the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration and therefore frustrates President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption in Nigeria”.
For instance, NISER was accused of unlawfully paying huge amounts of money into the bank accounts of some individuals namely: Odekunle Sunday Olukolade, Ojeleye Olatunji Emmanuel, Oladeji Abubakar, Akintunde Olumuyiwa, Aderinola Ogundele, Feyitimi Kunle and Adeoti John Olatunji.
“Records before the Civil Society Special Committee in uncovering allegations of corrupt practices in MDAS reveal a worrisome trend of corruption that is associated with the mode of transaction of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, stretching as far back as 2015,” read a part of the letter.
“Firstly, concern has been raised regarding the sum of N85million paid in six instalments into the private accounts of six individuals in the month of December 2019, with descriptions that reads ‘Accessing of fund for N-Power project by the state Government’. Amongst the recipients, Odekunle Sunday Olukolade was said to have been paid the highest amount, being N23 million, while Ojeleye Olatunji Emmanuel received the least amount, which was N5million.”
Ogheneyero observed that the 2019 Appropriation Act did not reflect any budgetary allocation for such expenditures from NISER, thereby raising a question of financial irregularities.
Aside all these, there were also allegations that NISER paid public funds into private accounts in 2019.
“Records before us show that in May 2019, about the sum of Fifty Million, Eight Hundred and Ninety-Eight Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty-Six Naira Thirty-Two Kobo (N50,898,336.32) was paid in seven instalments, with questionable uniform payments of the sum of N7,634,400.00 and N5,000,000.00 made to Odekunle Sunday Olukolade and Oladeji Abubakar for what the agency tagged ‘Payment for data collection and fieldwork supervision in the various states (Stage 2)’ and ‘DTA and Transportation and Official Trip’ respectively.”
They also established that “N10million paid to the above-mentioned persons in two instalments of N5million was done so in sheer contravention of The Federal Government E-payment Circular Ref. No. TRY/A8/B8/2008 dated 22nd October 2008 that stipulates that individual benefit/claim should be affected through their personal bank accounts. Executives of agencies must note that there is always a suspicion of the possibility of foul play.”
On the grounds of the Freedom of Information Act signed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, the CPTA asked NISER to provide clarifications on the funds allegedly misappropriated so that Nigerians can have a balanced perspective about public offices.
“It is imperative that we get clarification from NISER in order to have a balanced perspective as Nigerians deserve accountability and probity from those entrusted with public offices,” Ogheneyero wrote.
“This request is predicated on the Freedom of Information Act, as it will afford us the opportunity to articulate our position in our proposed press conference and other relevant civil actions in support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption posture and accordingly inform, balance perspective of the over 85 Civil Society Organizations under our coalition who are calling for a joint public action against you and all those involved.”
NISER is a Federal Government-controlled body directly under the National Planning Commission (NPC). As of the time of going to press, NISER still hasn’t responded to CPTA.
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