Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, Governor of Nasarawa State, has refused to respond to a freedom of Information request by the Socio-Economic Right And Accountability Project (SERAP) on how he spent security votes he received as Governor of the State from 2011 to 2019.
The outgoing governor, responding after a month of receiving the FoI request, said that the stipulated seven days to respond is too short while requesting for more time to compile and provide details on the spending of the security votes.
A letter sent to the SERAP with reference number NS/MOJ/ADM/108/VOL1/65 reads, “I refer to your letter dated 12th April 2019 requesting information on the spending of security votes by Nasarawa State between 2011 to date. I am directed to draw your attention to the fact that the information being requested covers a period of eight years and will require more than 7 days to process. We shall revert to you as soon as the information is ready.”
In response to the Governor, SERAP gave Al-Makura an extension of seven days to respond with details of the spending of Nasarawa state security votes.
It added that failure to respond would necessitate a legal proceeding to force it to comply with the FoI act.
“Thank you for your letter and expressed commitment to disclose details of security votes spending by your State
“We urge you to fast-track the process to ensure that the information is sent to us before the expiration of your term on 29th May 2019. This would be a perfect parting gift to the people of Nasarawa, and show the way for 35 other state governors and the federal government that have failed, so far, to respond to the FOI requests on security votes spending.
“In light of Gov. Al-Makura’s request, SERAP is happy to extend the period within which to provide the requested information.
“We would be grateful if the information is now provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this response, failing which SERAP shall take all appropriate legal action to compel Nasarawa state to comply with our request,” the letter reads.
SERAP had in April 2019 sent a letter to all 35 state governor and President Muhammadu Buhari, asking them to provide information on specific details of spending of appropriated public funds as security votes between 2011 and 2019, given the current security realities in the country.
The organization also said it is interested to know if public funds meant to provide security and ensure respect and protection of the rights to life, physical integrity, and liberty of Nigerians have been spent for this purpose.
It added that rather than serving the citizens, the appropriation of public funds as security votes over the years seem to serve high-ranking government officials at both federal and state levels.