- Transparency International said Nigeria annually spends N241 billion on security votes
- The group disclosed that the money is being spent by three tiers of government of the country
- Christina Hildrew, the Africa director for TI’s defence and security programme, however, said there is a wide issue in the defence sector
Transparency International has disclosed that offices of the president, 36 governors and 774 local government chairmen across Nigeria, annually spends N241 billion on security votes which are not subject to audit or legislative oversight.
The Punch reports that Christina Hildrew, the Africa director for TI’s defence and security programme, on Wednesday, September 5, made this known at a two-day event organised by the civil society legislative advocacy centre in Abuja.
Legit.ng gathered that the event was titled, ‘Impact of Anti-Money Laundering and Illicit Financial Flows: Legislative, Policy and Institutional Gaps to Investigate, Prosecute and Convict for Anti-Money Laundering and Illicit Financial Flow charges.’
Hildrew said: “Security votes are opaque and corruption-prone and the security funding mechanisms widely used across Nigeria’s three tiers of government; a significant percentage of the country’s overall security spending, the secretive unaccounted for add up to an estimated $670m annually.
“Transacted mostly in cash, security votes spending is not subject to legislative oversight or independent audit because of its ostensibly secretive nature. Yet, this veil of secrecy protects many officials who misspend security votes, channel them into political activities or embezzle them outright.”
“So, there is a wide issue in the defence sector which is defence ‘exceptionalism.’ That is the public allows the defence sector to be unaccountable for what they spend because of national security issues. However, the defence sector should not be unaccountable to the citizens it is meant to protect and serve.
“So, we call for additional legislative oversight of the defence sector and we think it is important that not only parliamentary committees and audit committees and civil society have a say in how the security funds are decided but checks and balances are also put into the system so that there is accountability and transparency of what security expenditure is going to occur to ensure that it protects citizens.”
Also speaking, anti-corruption advocate with CISLAC, Vaclav Prusa, said Nigeria remained the biggest victim of illicit financial outflows in Africa. Prusa said Nigeria loses about $25bn to money laundering every year.
He added: “Nigeria is affected by illicit financial outflows much more than the rest of the continent. In fact, the data shows that more money comes out of Nigeria than any other countries in Africa combined. We are talking about $20-25bn going out of Nigeria every year.”
Vaclav said the president had put some measures in place but it was too soon to evaluate the success or otherwise of his initiatives saying the ranking was based on expert opinion and the perception of most Nigerians towards corruption.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had reported that President Buhari approved the release of $1 billion for the purchase of arms to aid in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency.
The minister of defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, disclosed this on Wednesday, April 4, following a security meeting with the president.
He said they reviewed the security situation of the country before te president gave his approval for more equipment to be purchased.