NIGERIA’S Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has been asked to investigate the activities of state governors who it is now known received Covid-19 palliatives from the federal government and stored them in private warehouses.
Over the last 24 hours, the growing unrest in Nigeria has taken a new twist with angry mobs attacking the wealthy and government warehouses. In raids on warehouses across Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Kwara, Kaduna, Lagos, Osun, Plateau and Taraba states, huge stores of Covid-19 palliatives were uncovered, which the hunger-maddened masses carted away.
Shocked at how much food had been secretly stashed away, human rights group the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (Serap) has asked the ICPC to investigate the circumstances surrounding this hoarding. In a letter dated October 24 and signed by Serap deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the petition was sent to ICPC chairman Professor Bolaji Owasanoye,
In the petition, copied to Professor Itse Sagay, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (Pacac), Serap noted that people reported that the food was theirs but officials were keeping it to themselves. Serap asked the ICPC to ensure the prompt and effective prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible, if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence of hoarding and diversion of the palliatives.
Mr Oluwadare said: “Unless promptly investigated, the allegations of hoarding and diversion would undermine public trust in any efforts to bring the spread of the pandemic under control, exacerbate the negative impact of the crisis and deny those most in need access to basic necessities of life. We need tracking, monitoring and ensuring Covid-19 palliatives are timely, effectively and efficiently distributed to those most in need would improve transparency and accountability, respect for human rights, as well as remove the possibility of political considerations or bribery in the distribution of the palliatives.
“Serious concerns that the alleged hoarding of Covid-19 palliatives in several states and the apparent failure to timely, effectively, efficiently and transparently distribute the palliatives and other reliefs to the poorest and most vulnerable people have continued to deny many citizens the much-needed support.”
Serap also urged the ICPC o visit the states where Covid-19 palliatives have been discovered in warehouses and to track and monitor the distribution of palliatives across the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. It added that this was necessary to remove the risks of diversion and ensure that the palliatives get to those most in need and not used for political or corrupt purposes.