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Rights group calls for probe of alleged N48b Amnesty Int’l expenditures’ scam

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*Condemns purchase of expensive exotic bullet proof SUVs by Amnesty office

President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to immediately order the investigation of the procurement mechanisms at the Niger Delta Amnesty office since the assumption of office only few months ago of his Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta Amnesty Office retired Brigadier General Paul Bor.

This is following widespread allegations of serious violations of due process and the consequential abuses of procurement law in the purchase of multimillion Naira worth of exotic bullet proof cars and the payments of outrageous fees of nearly a Billion  Naira to a largely unknown firm (Westerfield) company to coach some repentant ex- militants preparatory to writing  the University Matriculation Examination  (JAMB) this year.

HURIWA has also expressed serious shock and consternation that at the time that President Muhammadu Buhari is reportedly preaching strict adherence to the procurement Act to avoid corruption and Economic crime that have almost crippled the economy of the country, a key appointee of Mr President is given unfettered permission or so it seems  to embark on spending bazaar and bonanza of frivolous purchases of highly exorbitant and exotic bullet proof/armoured cars even when widespread reports of forceful repatriation of beneficiaries of the Amnesty Office’s foreign educational scholarship schemes for failure to meet financial and tuitions of these ex-militants from the crude oil rich but impoverished Niger Delta region have emerged embarrassingly.

In the considered thinking g of the Rights group it amounts to extravagant expenditures of the most crudely and inordinate form for the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Amnesty Programme who is serving a government battling to come to terms with how to meet up with the welfare needs of the millions of Nigerians and build enduring infrastructures for posterity  because of fast dwindling falling asking international prices of crude oil to now be seen to have actually blown away N48 billion within few Months of his appointment on frivolities including official cars when he actually reportedly inherited from his predecessor, Mr Kingsley Kuku, a brand new Toyota Land cruiser.  

HURIWA said the idea of hiring an untested coaching firm (Westerfield) to coach prospective undergraduates  on how to pass university admissions tests makes nonsense of the transparency and accountability threshold of a democratic government when it is a notorious fact that Nigeria is richly endowed with good and credible teaching staff who can guide prospective students preparatory to eventual university admissions at affordable professional fees which would save cost. 

“How on Earth can an official of government that has told the World that it needs to borrow from World Bank to even pay public workers to now be identified as a man who loves ostentatious lifestyle at the expense of the distressed beneficiaries of this Niger Delta Amnesty Programme? 

“President Muhammadu Buhari must ensure that the relevant agencies of law enforcement and anti-graft agencies are allowed to immediately swing into action to recover these scarce public fund that are being frittered away on frivolous items by the Special Adviser on Niger Delta Amnesty Programme Brigadier General Boro. 

“This unmitigated extravagance must be effectively checked and all indicted officials made to face the full wrath of the law. 

“The fact that the office of the Special Adviser on Niger Delta Amnesty Programme seeks to justify these outrageous expenditures which by and large may have violated extant procurement and transparency laws is abominable and unacceptable.  This is reprehensible and totally condemnable.

“These series of near sleazy acquisitions by a public official at this troubling financial time is unsustainable and must be questioned by the anti-corruption authorities because these purchases are clear breaches of the Nigerian monetisation policy and is a breach of the Bureau of Public Procurement Act because a Special Adviser isn’t allowed to reach such a phenomenal thresholds of authorising payments for multimillion projects and purchases. 

“Moreover why pay over N500 million to an offshore consultancy firm to prepare would be beneficiaries of the Niger Delta amnesty programme when a lot of final year students who are undergoing scholarships abroad are being recalled for lack of funds to foot their tuition fees? This is an unmitigated and an unpardonable misadventure “.

HURIWA stated in a media statement issued on Sunday and jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf,  that it is shocking that even when a disgraced erstwhile Aviation minister Mrs Stella Oduah is still being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at the Federal High Court for allegedly frittering millions of public fund to purchase exotic armoured cars which attracted groundswell of public outcry,  the current Special Adviser on Niger Delta Amnesty Programme proceeded to purchase exotic armoured SUV for his official use even when he inherited a standard brand new jeep.

HURIWA said thus: ” We are shocked beyond belief to read the story which quoted report  presented to the Senate by the Amnesty office which reportedly shows retired Brigadier General Boro to have spent N157.2m on armoured, other cars, N510m on 150 ex-militants to take UTME in two months.  We gathered from even credible sources outside the specific newspaper (Thisday) that ran  this shocking story that ahead of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta’s consideration of the 2015 Status Report of the Presidential Amnesty Programme at the Senate this past week, senators  indicated their disapproval of the over N48 billion purportedly spent by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s coordinator of the programme, Brig-Gen. Paul Boro (rtd), since he assumed office last July.”

HURIWA recalled that: “The newspaper report stated emphatically that senators, who preferred not to be named, were particularly concerned over Boro’s purchase of official vehicles for his office for over N157 million as well as the huge sums of money purported to have been expended on the training of ex-militants between November and December last year. 

“This Rights body made quick consultation with some highly connected Senators who told us that there are even more scandalous disclosures than what has so far been exposed.”

HURIWA said that it agrees that the expenditure, which according to the senators, was listed in the annual status report of the Amnesty Office sent to the Senate Committees on Niger Delta and Public Procurement, have made nonsense of the federal government’s efforts at belt tightening measures, arising from the nation’s dwindling earnings from crude oil.

The annual report, which the two Senate committees was scheduled to have reviewed along with the office’s 2016 budget  this past week, indicated that Boro who took over from Hon. Kingsley Kuku as Presidential Adviser on the Amnesty Programme under the current administration, in just five months awarded contracts worth about N40 Billion. 

“The exotic official car was reportedly acquired from Wada Autos Limited at the princely sum of N55 million and full payment has since been made.

The Office of the Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta and Coordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, in response to a THISDAY exclusive report published on Wednesday on the Amnesty Office’s N48 billion expenditure since its coordinator, Brigadier-General Paul Boroh (rtd) assumed office, has refuted the story but essentially didn’t succeed in denying spending  of the  Whooping sum of N48 billion on sundry expenditures including exotic armoured cars.

HURIWA also noted that the National paper that broke the story of the emerging monumental scandals in the office of Special Adviser on Niger Delta Amnesty Programme has stood by the sacredness of their facts. The Rights group has therefore warned that any attempt to sweep this scam under the carpets of infamy and impunity would not succeed as this would be termed another evidence that the current government is actually not committed to the anti-graft crusade. 

The Rights group recalled that Thisday Newspaper which broke the story specifically stated that the Amnesty office in five months had expended N48 billion. The report in the possession of Thisday reportedly  showed that the office got N15,632,482,413.00 in the first quarter of 2015; N15,795,601,108.08 in the second quarter; N15,962,842,632.19 in the third quarter; and N15,632,482,412.64 in the fourth quarter of the year under review, totalling N63,023,408,565.91.

“The breakdown of the car purchases were as follows: an armoured Lexus LX 570 Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) with communications equipment for VIP movement, bought for N55 million from Wada Autos Limited; one Toyota Land Cruiser VX V8 bought for N25.85 million; and four Toyota Camry 3.5L V6 and four Toyota Hilux 4WD bought at the cost N75.35 million.

The Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Camries and Hilux buses were purchased from Globe Motors.

HURIWA has also called on all likeminded civil society groups to partner with it to ensure that this scam isn’t hidden like many others.

Emmanuel Onwubiko


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