An anti-graft body, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has applauded the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal, Abuja division which declared the failure of public officers to give an account of security votes entrusted to them to stealing or criminal misappropriation and a practice, akin to genocide.
According to CACOL, the practice of allocating humongous chunk of state resources to security votes or whatever name they choose to call it, by federal, states and local governments in the country is an open day robbery and a carry-over effect of military incursion into power
Executive Chairman of the body, Debo Adeniran said that CACOL had always maintained that any money not appropriated for by the National Assembly, states’ legislature or local governments’ equivalent of it, or appropriated for but not judiciously accounted for by the respective Administrative arm of government is simply misappropriation of public funds.
“The preceding military governments in Nigeria, as was customary on assumption of power after an undemocratic putsch, usually suspended the legislature and by implications, the constitution, which is normally the ground norm in a democracy; after which they had resort to all kinds of undemocratic practices to intimidate and subvert the popular wish of the masses, including financial misappropriation and official recklessness,” the group said.
They were the same elements that introduced this practice of allocating fictitious ‘security votes’ that they insisted they should be free to dispense, as they like without any recourse to accountability or responsibility, all under the guise of securing the nation and its diverse interests.
Adeniran argued that it is therefore, a big relief and it is like Daniel coming to judgment when the Appeal Court judge, Justice Agim Emmanuel held that, ‘Governor Nyame of Taraba state, in his defense, believed that as a governor, the security votes were his personal entitlement to be used as he pleased without any responsibility to explain how he used same and that since it is his entitlement, he cannot be said to have stolen same.’
The judge consequently held that this is completely wrong.
“As much as we agree that security matters of any nation or its component states are a very sensitive and strategic issue that should be handled with tact and panache, we urge all stake holders within the security apparatai to take note of this in belief and practice while applying this landmark judgment.
“This mentality was arrogantly and recklessly displayed too when the Chief Spokesman to the President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Garba Sheu, in defense of the Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari, in a N29.9million bribery allegation leveled by one Bako Kyari, his supposed nephew, revealed that, he, Abba Kyari, was entitled to over N200million tax payers’ money monthly, which he was not expected or required to give account for!
“This is completely outrageous, insensitive and alien to the letter and spirit of democracy and its kernel of social contract theme that presupposes that those in government only serve as custodians of power bestowed by the electorate, who ultimately, remain the custodians of this sacred sovereignty.
“We therefore, hail this land breaking judicial pronouncement and urge all public officials to take heed and desist from their characteristic financial impunity and official waywardness with a wrong cognition of treating Nigerians as a ‘conquered lot’ rather than revered compatriots,” the group stated.