Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has urged the President, Major Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, to probe how the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources spent N116 million to buy biros, letterhead, and toners in 2015.

The organisation in a statement on Sunday also asked the president and Sylva to investigate the amount spent on the same items between 2016 and 2020, and “if there is evidence of misuse of public funds, refer the matter to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for prosecution.”

The statement titled ‘SERAP asks Buhari, Sylva to explain how petroleum ministry spent N116m on pens, others’ was signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

WE had reported that the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation last Thursday before the Senate Public Accounts Committee revealed that officials of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources spent N116m to buy biros, letterhead, and toners in one year.

The breakdown of the expenditure showed that the ministry spent N14.5 million to purchase Schneider biros, N46 million to print the ministry’s letterhead, and N56 million to procure toner for its photocopy machines.

Part of the statement read, “A democratic government accountable to the people must be as transparent as possible and must not withhold information for self-serving reasons or simply to avoid embarrassment.
“We would therefore be grateful if you would indicate the measures being taken to probe the spending of N116m on biros, letterhead and toners in 2015, and disclose the total amount spent on the same items between 2016 and 2020 within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.

“If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your Ministry to implement these recommendations in the interest of transparency and accountability.”

“The Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources has a legal obligation to conduct an effective investigation into any allegations of breach of anti-corruption legislation and international standards, including those relating to the spending by the Ministry on biros, letterhead and toners between 2015 and 2020.”