The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has accused the national assembly of committing “crimes against humanity” by altering various allocations in the 2018 budget.
While signing the budget on Wednesday, Buhari revealed that the lawmakers added 6,403 projects of their own to the 2018 budget proposal he sent to them.
“The national assembly made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion,” he had said.
“Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by the national assembly have not been properly conceptualised, designed and costed and will, therefore, be difficult to execute.”
In a statement on Thursday, SERAP asked Buhari to “drag the lawmakers to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution over crimes against humanity”.
“The deliberate and systematic acts of alleged budget padding and cutting of funding by the lawmakers coupled with the widespread negative consequences of such acts for millions of Nigerians across the country point to not only allegations of corruption but also crimes against humanity, that is, deliberately withholding access of Nigerians to essential and life-saving public services, which can be tried at the International Criminal Court,” the statement signed by Timothy Adewale, SERAP’s deputy director, read.
“Apart from pursuing a possible crime against humanity prosecution before the ICC, President Buhari should also move swiftly to enforce the judgement delivered last month by Justice Mohammed Idris in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1821/2017, ordering the president to ask anti-corruption agencies to forward to him reports of their investigations into allegations of padding and stealing of some N481 billion from the 2016 budget, and to ensure effort prosecution of suspects.”
SERAP added that it is the failure to address allegations of padding of the 2016 budget that has “allowed the practice to continue with almost absolute impunity.”
“Combating impunity of lawmakers for allegations of budget padding is important for ending the practice and deterring future lawmakers from using their legislative functions as a weapon for promoting personal gains and denying Nigerians access to critical and life-saving public services,” it said.