The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on President Bola Tinubu to instruct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, along with relevant anti-corruption agencies, to swiftly investigate the allegations surrounding the missing, diverted, or unaccounted $3.4 billion loan obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
According to SERAP, the 2020 annual audited report published last week by the Auditor-General of the Federation documents damning revelations including that there was no document to show the movement and spending of the IMF loan.
SERAP also urged the President to ensure that, "anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any missing IMF loan should be fully recovered and returned to the public treasury."
In the letter dated 3 February 2024 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: "There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations. Taking these important measures would end the impunity of perpetrators.
"Servicing IMF loan that is allegedly missing, diverted or unaccounted for is double jeopardy for Nigerians—they can neither see nor benefit from the projects for which the loan was approved; yet, they are made to pay both the loan and accrued interests.
"Any failure to investigate these grave allegations, bring suspected perpetrators to justice and recover any missing IMF loan would have serious resource allocation and exacerbate the country's debt burden."
SERAP said it would be grateful if the “recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter”.
“If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest,” it, however, added.
It further said, "The Auditor-General recommends that the money be fully recovered and remitted to the public treasury and those suspected to be involved 'sanctioned and handed over to anticorruption agencies’.
"The allegations of corruption in the spending of IMF loan documented by the Auditor-General undermine economic development of the country, trap the majority of Nigerians in poverty and deprive them of opportunities."
It noted that according to reports, Nigeria is expected to spread the payment of the IMF loan from 2023 to 2027.
It said, “The first instalment, due in 2023, is worth $497.17 million. The second instalment, due in 2024, will be worth $1.76 billion. The third instalment, due in 2025, will be worth $865.27 million.
"The final two instalments, due in 2026 and 2027, will each be worth $33.99 million. These instalments will only be interest payments."
"Investigating the allegations and naming and shaming and prosecuting those suspected to be responsible for the missing IMF would serve the public interest and end the impunity of perpetrators.
"Impunity for corruption in the management of loans obtained by Nigeria will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes. It is by pursuing these allegations and taking the evidence before the court that the truth will be revealed and justice best served."