A civil society group, the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET), at a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, raised objections to accountability watchdogs Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Enough is Enough (EiE), and BudgIT following concerns raised over the army’s budget implementation in the last three years.
According to the group, the EiE, SERAP and BudgIT have no standing to enquire into the military’s activities, accusing the organisations of being sponsored by external donors for the purpose of destabilisation.
CESJET Executive Director Barrister Gbemisola Osaloni suggested that SERAP, EiE and BudgIT should visit the army’s counterinsurgency theatre of operations to obtain direct information on happenings on the ground.
“CESJET hereby condemns in its totality the questionable call for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 budget implementation reports of the Nigeria Army by the SERAP, EiE and BudgIT,” said Osaloni, stating the groups’ position.
“We frown at such a request coming from groups that are known for external fraternisation in the funding of their activities.
“CESJET wishes to use this medium to inform the members of the unsuspecting public that the trio of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Enough is Enough and BudgIT might be carrying out a script from their oversees donors that have continually funded their operations, but hiding under the umbrella of advocates for transparency and good governance.
“In the years that civil society organisations crisscrossed North East Nigeria to demand better welfare for troops and as well as demand for transparency in the operations of the Nigeria Army, SERAP, EiE and BudgIT distanced themselves from such activities. Instead, they rely on desk research and hearsay when issuing statements.”
The statement further berated the watchdogs by adding that “to demand for budget implementation reports is not only an act of ignorance, but an attempt to cause a distraction which is most uncharitable in timing and intent.
“The likes of SERAP and BudgIT get their funding from organisations based outside the shores of the country and as such, it would not be farfetched if part of the payback would be to cause a distraction such as this in an attempt to create unnecessary tension in the polity.”
CESJET said it viewed the call as being against the National interest, and for its potential to jeopardise the efforts of the Nigerian Army in its operations across the country.