In another major blow to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Transparency International has revealed how over N241billion is being siphoned from the nation’s treasury annually through the security votes.
The antigraft organisation indicted top security chiefs and state governors for deploying security votes as a conduit pipe to divert public funds.
Mr Adeolu Kilanko, of the Transparency International (Defence and Security Unit) disclosed this on Wednesday via a report titled: “Camouflaged Cash – How Security Votes Fuel Corruption in Nigeria” presented at the Zonal official launch of the report in Nigeria organized by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in Ibadan.
He called for a legislation to abolish security vote, which according to him, accounts for over N241.2billion annual drain from the nation’s treasury.
“In just one year, these extra budgetary expenditures add up to over nine times the amount of US security assistance to Nigeria since 2012 ($68.6m) and over twelve times the $53.5m (40million pounds) in counterterrorism support the UK promised Nigeria from 2016 to 2020,” he said.
“Looking at it from another angle, security vote spending exceeds 70 percent of the annual budget of the Nigeria Police Force, more than the Nigerian Army’s annual budget, and more than the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air Force’s annual budgets combined”.
The body however commended Lagos State for transiting to Security Trust Fund (STF) using a public-private partnership to provide supplementary funding to security services in the state.
As part of its recommendations to tackle the growing corruption, Kilanko called for legislation banning security votes.
“The federal government and Nigeria’s international partners should work with state governments to established Security Trust Funds as a transitional measure. Security Trust Fund best practices should be enshrined in an act passed by the National Assembly, to ensure that their funds are used accountably and in the public interest.
“The Lagos state Security Trust Fund could be drawn upon as a model. To succeed, these funds must be professionally managed, cost effective, transparent and free from political and security force interference.”