FACT CHECK: Did FG earmark N380bn for prosecution of Boko Haram suspects?

On Thursday, news that the federal government had earmarked N380 billion for the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects went viral on social media. The information, which was shared via a photo taken from a television programme that featured the budget defence session of the national assembly, had the message: “N380 billion projection for prosecution of Boko Haram suspects”.


As the photo was shared across social media platforms, a similar caption was used by different individuals.

The tweets, one of which got over 2,500 likes and nearly 2,000 retweets, compared the said amount to a proposed allocation made to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for revitalisation of universities across the country.

“N380 billion earmarked in the 2021 Budget for the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects. We gave ASUU N20billion to revitalize 90 public universities in Nigeria. Psychological test on our ruling elites is key,” one of the tweets read.

2021 BUDGET OF ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE

On October 8, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2021 budget proposal to a joint session of the national assembly. This was done after the federal executive council (FEC) approved N13.09 trillion for the 2021 fiscal year.

The 2021 budget termed: “Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience” is expected to accelerate the pace of Nigeria’s economic recovery, promote economic diversification, enhance competitiveness and ensure social inclusion.

In the proposed budget, total federally distributable revenue is estimated at N8.433 trillion, total revenue available to fund the 2021 federal budget is estimated at N7.886 trillion. This includes grants and aid of N354.85 billion as well as the revenues of 60 government-owned enterprises.

The 2021 Budget deficit (inclusive of Government Owned Enterprises and project-tied loans), is projected at N5.20 trillion. The deficit will be financed mainly by new borrowings totaling N4.28 trillion, N205.15 billion from privatisation proceeds and N709.69 billion in drawdowns on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific projects and programmes.

DID FG EARMARK N380 BILLION FOR PROSECUTION OF BOKO HARAM SUSPECTS?

Checks by TheCable showed that there is no evidence to support the news of N380 billion earmarked for prosecution of Boko Haram suspects. Documents from the budget office provided a breakdown of projects under various ministries for the 2021 fiscal year.

Of the N20.2 billion earmarked for the federal ministry of justice, a total allocation of N8.2 billion was proposed for activities under the ministry’s headquarters with a project which has code ERGP17155226 named “prosecution of prison inmates and decongestion of correction centres nationwide”.

For the project, N380 million was earmarked. Other projects in the section include “prosecution of maritime/offshore offences” with N275 million earmarked; “justice sector reform, decentralization of correctional services centre” with a proposed N375 million fund; among others.

BUDGET DEFENCE AND SENATE SITTINGS

Although the project on “prosecution of prison inmates and decongestion of correction centres nationwide” did not focus on Boko Haram, findings from the senate budget defence committee showed that the project is meant for prosecution of Boko Haram suspects.

Speaking before the senate committee on judiciary, legal and human rights matters, on Monday, Dayo Apata, the solicitor-general of the federation, said more lawyers will be needed for the prosecution of 3,000 inmates.

Apata, who was accompanied by Abubakar Malami, minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, said the ministry of justice has proposed N2 billion to cover its legal services for the 2021 fiscal year.

Ajibola Basiru, the senate spokesperson and member of the panel, had earlier quizzed the proposed allocation over overlapping details.

Reacting to the development while addressing journalists, Opeyemi Bamidele, chairperson of the senate panel, had said more explanation is needed on the proposal.

“There is a need for further explanation and documentation on the figure we have before us,” he said.

“The Boko Haram thing is a war of some sort being prosecuted by Nigeria. It is not just the ministry of justice, all of our armed forces, they are doing a lot of extra budgetary spending because when you are prosecuting a war you deal with situations as they arise.”

CONCLUSION: The claim that federal government earmarked N380 billion for the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects is FALSE. The project on “prosecution of prison inmates and decongestion of correction centres nationwide” has a budget proposal of N380 million.


The Cable

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