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SERAP asks Buhari to probe ‘missing billions’ in UBEC, SUBEBs

SERAP asks Buhari to probe ‘missing billions’ in UBEC, SUBEBs
February 21
21:36 2021

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to order the probe of “missing billions” from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs).

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In a letter dated February 20, SERAP urged Buhari to direct the appropriate anti-corruption agencies to look into allegations of corruption between 2004 and 2020 in both agencies.

The organisation also urged the president to make the outcome of the investigation public, and fully recover any missing funds.

“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,” the letter signed by Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP deputy director, read.

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“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.

“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.

“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.

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“We would be grateful if your government would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations 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 Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in UBEC and SUBEBs.

“Allegations of corruption in UBEC and SUBEBs undermine public confidence in the education sector, lead to the erosion of education quality and access, and if not urgently addressed will lead to an increase in out-of-school children, and exacerbate educational inequalities in the country.”

“According to the 2017 Annual Report by the Auditor-General of the Federation, UBEC spent ₦7,712,000.00 to engage external solicitors between January to December, 2015 without due process and the approval of the Attorney General of the Federation. UBEC also reportedly failed to explain the nature of the legal services rendered. The Auditor-General is concerned UBEC may have engaged ‘unqualified solicitors.

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“SERAP is concerned about allegations of widespread and systemic corruption, misappropriation and mismanagement within UBEC and several SUBEBs, the failure to investigate these allegations, and to recover any missing public funds. The Federal Government bears responsibility for ensuring that every Nigerian child has access to quality education in conducive learning environment, and to safeguard education as a public.”

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