Buhari’s govt pays ex-militants N2.63bn as stipends in two months, data reveal

THE President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, through the Office of the Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, paid the sum of N2.63 billion to 10 different personal accounts between March and May 2021, daily payment data from the Open Treasury Portal (OTP) have revealed.

Data obtained from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation through ‘Govspend.ng’ reveal that the monies were stipends to delegates who were mostly ex-militants in the Niger Delta region.

Govspend.ng is a new visual platform launched by BudgIT to provide daily government spending in a simplified way.

According to data curated from the platform, N1.6 billion was paid in March, N452.2 million in April, and N574.8 million in May, of which most payments were described as ‘bulk payment of stipends to camp leaders…’ and ‘bulk payment of stipends to ex-agitators for the month…’

Names of individuals whose accounts were credited with these payments included: Awotongha Princewill B – N99 million, Cyril Harry- N79.2 million, Dasimaka Adokiye Sami- N914.9 million, Ebikabowei Victor Ben- N716.9 million, and Harry Tonye Ikemenjeme- N197.4 million.

Others were: Joseph Evah- N110.4 million, Odiki Jacob- N241.3 million, Reuben C. Wilson- N130.6 million, Sylvester A. Tambo- N10 million, and Torughedi Selky- N128.3 million.

To identify those behind the names listed, The ICIR searched each of the names on social media platforms. While it was difficult to connect some of the names on the list to the results on our query, some names appeared to be the real receivers of these monies.

For Instance, Dasimaka Adokiye Sami received the highest sum of N914.9 million as a stipend for 2,802 ex-militants in the Ateke Tom camp. Ateke Tom was the former leader of the Niger Delta Vigilante, a militant group in the Niger Delta region.

Joseph Evah is the current national coordinator of the Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG). He received the sum of N110.4 million into his personal account as stipends for ex-militants.

Ebikabowei Victor-Ben, also known as ‘General Boyloaf,’ is the former commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). According to the data, Ebikabowei received the second-highest sum of N716.9 million on behalf of over 200 ex-militants in his camp.

Speaking about the platform’s launch, BudgIT’s Chief Executive Officer Gabriel Okeowo said the platform’s objective was to provide machine-readable data that would be readily available, accessible, and downloadable.

“The Federal Government has done a great job in ensuring that the government’s daily spending is in the public domain. However, data on the portal are mostly non-machine readable and not downloadable. We developed the govspend.ng portal to rectify this issue,” Okeowo said.

While the OTP provides public access to collated data on government spending at the federal level, the platform seeks to simplify treasury reports uploaded on the portal for citizen’s, civil society organisations (CSOs) and the media to access, monitor, and understand the Federal Government’s real-time expenditure.●

Author: Damilola OJETUNDE

[Courtesy: International Centre for Investigative Reporting]

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