The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has called on the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to investigate the alleged diversion of COVID-19 palliatives reported in many states across the country.
SERAP made the demand in a petition sent to Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, a copy of which was made available to journalists on Sunday.
The organisations petition followed reports that some people have discovered and taken away COVID-19 palliatives stored in warehouses in several states.
The petition dated 24 October, 2020, was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
The petition, copied to Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), noted that “some people have reportedly discovered and taken away COVID-19 palliatives stored in warehouses in several states including Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Kwara, Kaduna, Lagos, Osun, Plateau and Taraba states, with some of the people reportedly saying: ‘the food is ours but they are keeping it for themselves’.”
SERAP asked the agency to “ensure the prompt and effective prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible, if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence of hoarding and diversion of the palliatives.”
SERAP also said, “Unless promptly investigated, the allegations of hoarding and diversion would undermine public trust in any efforts to bring the spread of the pandemic under control, exacerbate the negative impact of the crisis, and deny those most in need access to basic necessities of life.
“Tracking, monitoring and ensuring COVID-19 palliatives are timely, effectively, and efficiently distributed to those most in need would improve transparency and accountability, respect for human rights, as well as remove the possibility of political considerations or bribery in the distribution of the palliatives.
“serious concerns that the alleged hoarding of COVID-19 palliatives in several states and the apparent failure to timely, effectively, efficiently, and transparently distribute the palliatives and other reliefs to the poorest and most vulnerable people have continued to deny many citizens the much-needed support.”
SERAP also urged the ICPC “to visit the states where COVID-19 palliatives have been discovered in warehouses, and to track and monitor the distribution of palliatives across the 36 states of the country, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to remove the risks of diversion, and ensure that the palliatives get to those most in need, and not used for political or corrupt purposes.”