The anti-corruption crusade group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN to widely publish the names of those indicted in the alleged misappropriation of over N6 trillion in the running of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) between 2000 and 2019.
While referring to the recent Forensic Audit Report on NDDC, SERAP also urged the president to direct Malami and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing N6 trillion and to fully recover any misappropriated public funds.
This was disclosed in an open letter from SERAP dated September 25, 2021, and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, noting that it will take legal action if these measures are not taken by the Federal Government within 14 days of this publication.
SERAP said that it is in the public interest to promptly publish the names of those indicted in the audit report and to ensure that they face prosecution, as appropriate.
What SERAP is saying in the letter
SERAP pointed out that taking these decisive steps would advance the victims’ right to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition, as well as improve public confidence in the fight against corruption.”
The letter from SERAP partly reads:
“Despite the country’s enormous oil wealth, ordinary Nigerians have derived very little benefit from trillions of naira budgeted for socio-economic development in the region primarily because of widespread grand corruption, and the entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators.
“The level of grand corruption in the NDDC, and the devastating effects on poor Nigerians are serious enough to meet the requirements of crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Nigeria is a state party.
“The public interest in publishing the names of those indicted by the audit report outweighs any considerations to withhold the information, as there would be no prejudice against those whose names are published as long as the information is appropriately framed and truthful.
“The audit report raises prima facie evidence of grand corruption and its staggering effects in the Niger Delta. Nigerians have the right to know the names of those indicted and other details in the report, as guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Freedom of Information Act.
“Publishing widely the report and the names of those indicted would remove the possibility of obstruction of justice, and provide insights relevant to the public debate on the ongoing efforts to combat grand corruption and the longstanding impunity of perpetrators in the country.
“Nigerians are entitled to the right to receive information without any interference or distortion, and the enjoyment of this right should be based on the principle of maximum disclosure, and a presumption that all information is accessible subject only to a narrow system of exceptions.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“The missing N6 trillion and over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta have continued to have a negative impact on the human rights of Nigerians, undermining their access to basic public goods and services, such as education, healthcare, and regular and uninterrupted electricity supply.”
The letter from SERAP was copied to Mr Malami, AGF; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye SAN, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
What you should know
Recall that earlier in September 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, received the final report of the forensic audit of the NDDC.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godwill Akpabio, who presented the report, disclosed that the forensic audit covered a total of 13,777 contracts that were awarded from 2001 to 2019 at a final contract value of over N3 trillion.
The Forensic Audit Report into the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) reveals grim allegations of misappropriation of N6 trillion in the commission between 2000 and 2019, and that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta.
The report also pointed out that the NDDC operated a total of 362 bank accounts, which resulted in a “lack of proper reconciliation of accounts.”