Transparency International says the offices of the President, 36 governors and 774 local government chairmen in Nigeria, spend unaudited $670m (N241bn) yearly on security votes.
The Africa Director for TI Defence and Security Programme, Christina Hildrew, made the disclosure at an event organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre in Abuja on Wednesday.
Hildrew told reporters: “Security votes are opaque and corruption-prone and the security funding mechanisms widely used across Nigeria’s three tiers of government; a significant percentage of the country’s overall security spending, the secretive unaccounted for add up to an estimated $670m annually.
“Transacted mostly in cash, security votes spending is not subject to legislative oversight or independent audit because of its ostensibly secretive nature. Yet, this veil of secrecy protects many officials who misspend security votes, channel them into political activities or embezzle them outright.”
Hildrew also stated that there was a need to ensure that those controlling the funds were held accountable.
“So, there is a wide issue in the defence sector which is defence ‘exceptionalism.’ That is the public allows the defence sector to be unaccountable for what they spend because of national security issues.
“We call for additional legislative oversight of the defence sector and we think it is important that not only parliamentary committees and audit committees and civil society have a say in how the security funds are decided but checks and balances are also put into the system so that there is accountability and transparency of what security expenditure is going to occur to ensure that it protects citizens,” he said.