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Kings and officials sabotaging N10,000 TraderMoni by collecting bribes from the poor beneficiaries but we cannot prosecute them, Presidency cries out

The Presidency on Thursday alleged that some traditional rulers and government officials were sabotaging the Social Investment Programme by collecting bribes from the poor beneficiaries of the N10,000 TraderMoni scheme.

The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on the SIP,  Maryam Uwais, stated this at the 13th Anti-Corruption Agenda for the 9th National Assembly organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, a non-governmental organisation.

She lamented that many attempts to ensure the prosecution of the affected persons by the various security and anti-corruption agencies had not been successful.

Some of the affected states, according to the presidential aide who spoke in an interview with journalists on the sidelines of the event, included Osun, Kano, Jigawa,  Katsina, Benue and Niger.

She said, “There are people in the local government areas and at the state levels who have been able to exploit the vulnerability of our beneficiaries.

“Some of those beneficiaries don’t even report because they are thankful for whatever they get and they believe that the people who are trying to take this money from them are actually capable of removing their names from the list.

“We asked our monitors to investigate and we discovered that it was true. We are planning to visit all those communities and assure all those women of their protection. We have reported those cases to the security agencies.

“Whether or not the security agencies have been swift or aggressive in their approach is another issue. As far as compiling and submitting our findings to security agencies,  we have done our best.

“The BoI has been able to apprehend and report the perpetrators of such acts. We have given our statements to the anti-corruption agency.

“The suspects have been invited but I’m yet to see any prosecution.

“Some of the affected states are in Osun, Kano, Jigawa and Katsina. All of them are being investigated and we have submitted our report.  I have also reported Benue and Niger with evidence forwarded to the law enforcement agencies.”

Mr Femi Falana (SAN), who also spoke at the occasion, alleged that none of the 774 local government areas in the country had a functional budget as required by law.

He said, “None of the 774 local government councils in Nigeria has any functional budget. They are just operating without any direction.”

He also criticised the recent closure of the Nigerian- Seme borders by the Federal Government, without considering the plights of the poor who daily ply the road to transact cross-border businesses.

He condemned abuse of court process, where those invited for questioning for alleged fraud secure court orders to frustrate such moves.

He warned that if the practice was not discontinued, criminals and other evil elements might soon adopt the same method to frustrate their arrests and eventual prosecution.

He said, “When you invite a politician for questioning, he runs to a court to get an order. This is alien to our laws.”

Chairman on the occasion, Prof. Shehu Abdullahi, said every stakeholder must contribute to the fight against corruption.

The Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Senate, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, identified five bodies that should be at the forefront of he fight against corruption.

He said, “Corruption is as old as the society itself. In every society, there are key agencies that can fight corruption. We have the executive, the legislature, independent commissions, the media and citizens.

“The challenge is that these five groups must do their job well.  I want to advise that we should have a clear advocacy brief that will be taken to the National Assembly. We need to have a clear picture on how to tackle corruption.”

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