Probe corruption in privatisation process, SERAP urges Buhari

President Buhari

Human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has called for the probe of the alleged corruption that dogged the privatisation of public enterprises in the country between 1999 and 2011.

The group, in an open letter by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, on Sunday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to order the probe of the five Directors General that manned the Bureau of Public Procurement between 1999 and 2012 for alleged abuse of office.

It listed the said past DGs of BPE as the incumbent Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai (1999-2003); Dr. Julius Baba (2003-2004); Mrs. Irene Chigbue (2004-2009); Dr Chris Anyanwu (2009-2010); and Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa (2010-2012).

It said the ex-DGs should be referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission for probe.

SERAP said its call followed the report of the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Investigation of the Privatisation and Commercialisation Activities of the Bureau of Public Enterprise from 1999 to 2011.

According to the group, the report contains “damaging allegations of corruption, presidential interference, and abuse of due process in the selection of core investor, valuation of public enterprises, pricing of shares/assets, determination of workers terminal benefits, and use of proceeds of privatisation.”

It said Buhari would do well to “reform the Bureau of Public Enterprise to remove opportunities for corruption in privatisation process, and to instruct the EFCC and ICPC to ensure the recovery of proceeds of corruption.”

According to SERAP, in the senate committee’s report, it was alleged that the five past DGs of the BPE “used privatisation proceeds to pay transaction expenses, consultancy fees and staff terminal benefits without appropriation by the National Assembly, in violation of Section 19(2) of the Public Enterprises Act.”

SERAP said, “Specifically, the committee, among others, found that a total sum of N301bn was realised as proceeds of privatisation from 1999 to 2011.

“N900m of that was used as loan to Nigeria Re-insurance Plc for recapitalisation, in violation of section 19(2) of the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act 1999.

“Folio Communications Limited pledged the assets of Daily Times Nigeria Plc to obtain loan from bank(s) and utilised the loan to pay for the share of the company.”

 “Core investor converted the premises of Volkswagen Nigeria Limited into bonded warehouses for storage of contrabands mainly rice, vegetable oils, fertilizer, but was not reported by the BPE. Punch

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