Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Federal Government to “publish weekly details of exact funds and other resources allocated by the authorities to combat the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria.”
In a press release shared with newsmen, the human rights group said it had sent Freedom of Information requests to Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health and Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), SERAP to demand transparency in the use of the funds and resources being mobilised to combat coronavirus.
In the FoI requests dated 27 March, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “We are concerned that lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources to combat COVID-19 would lead to diversion or mismanagement of resources, unnecessarily cost lives, and result in serious damage to public health in the country.”
SERAP said: “We urge you to disclose the level of enforcement for home quarantine system for high-ranking public officials, politicians and the wealthy, and whether the Ministry of Health and NCDC are carrying out spot checks to ensure strict compliance by these people.”
The FoI requests read, in part: “Transparency and openness in the use of funds and operations of the Ministry of Health and NCDC would help to reduce the risk of corruption or opportunism, build trust and engage Nigerians in the fight against coronavirus as well as safe lives. Transparency and accountability are important to implementing an effective response to COVID-19 and slowing the spread of the virus in the country.”
It further asked that NCDC publish the number of tests carried out since the index case was discovered. NCDC was urged to “disclose information on the exact number of tests that have been carried out for high-ranking public officials and politicians, the number of any such high-ranking public officials and politicians now in self-isolation or quarantine, as well as the exact number of tests that have been carried out for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”
According to SERAP: “politicians engaging in multiple tests for coronavirus have in turn slowed the number of tests for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”