Updated: March 5, 2021
Activists have asked Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to recover billions of naira believed to have been stolen from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs).
The recoveries should cover the years between 2004 and 2020, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said in a statement on Sunday.
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SERAP urged Buhari “to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN to work with appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly probe allegations of corruption in the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) between 2004 and 2020, including missing N3,836,685,213.13 documented in the 2017 Annual Report by the Auditor-General of the Federation.”
In the open letter dated February 20, 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization also urged him to “direct Mr Malami and the anticorruption agencies to make public the outcome of any investigation, and to prosecute suspected perpetrators if there is relevant admissible evidence, as well as fully recover any missing public funds.”
It said: “Allegations of corruption in UBEC and SUBEBs violate the right to education of millions of Nigerian children who continue to face unsuitable learning conditions, as shown by the poor learning and boarding facilities at the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State where dozens of schoolchildren, teachers and their relatives were abducted by gunmen.
“Investigating the allegations of corruption and mismanagement in UBEC and SUBEBs, prosecuting suspected perpetrators and recovering any missing public funds would contribute to addressing the education crisis in the country, which has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable and marginalized, and entrenched inequality.”
SERAP also urged President Buhari to “ensure prompt investigation into the spending of money budgeted for the Safe School Initiative since 2014, including N3.2 billion from the Federal Government and private donors meant to ensure a safer school environment for children, and to clean up an apparently entrenched system of corruption in the education sector.”
According to SERAP: “Many years of unresolved allegations of corruption and mismanagement in UBEC and SUBEBs have resulted in decreasing quality of education for poor children while many politicians send their own children to the best private schools in the country and abroad, and thereby leaving behind generations of poor children.”