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SERAP asks Buhari to probe ‘missing N3.8bn’ health funds

SERAP asks Buhari to probe ‘missing N3.8bn’ health funds

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe allegations of missing N3.8 billion health funds.

In a statement on Sunday, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP’s deputy director, said the funds are meant for the federal ministry of health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, and National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

He said the allegation is contained in the first part of the 2018 audited report released by the office of the auditor-general of the federation.

Oluwadare said the missing funds could have been used in providing healthcare for Nigerians, particularly during the period of coronavirus pandemic.

He asked Buhari to “investigate the extent and patterns of widespread corruption in the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, neuro-psychiatric hospitals, National Health Insurance Scheme, and NAFDAC indicted in the audited report, and to clean up an apparently entrenched system of corruption in the health sector.”

“Corruption in the health sector can cause serious harm to individuals and society, especially the most vulnerable sectors of the population. These missing funds could have been used to provide access to quality healthcare for Nigerians and meet the requirements of the National Health Act, especially at a time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“Investigating and prosecuting the allegations of corruption by these institutions would improve the chances of success of your government’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption and end the impunity of perpetrators, as well as serve the public interest.”

Oluwadare said failure to investigate the allegation will result in a breach of the country’s constitution and the UN convention against corruption.

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“Any failure to promptly investigate the allegations and prosecute suspected perpetrators, and to recover the missing public funds would breach Nigeria’s anti-corruption legislation, the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the UN Convention against Corruption, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party,” he said.

“Allegations of corruption in the health sector undermine public confidence in the sector. 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 Registered 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 the health sector.”

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