Buhari drgged to court over looted N11trn electricity funds

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been dragged to court over his failure to probe allegations that over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply since 1999 may have been looted, mismanaged or diverted into private pockets.

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) which revealed this  in a statement by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, at the weekend, lamented that, “Nigerian cities have repeatedly been plunged into darkness as the electricity grid has reportedly collapsed at least three times in five months, and 130 times in seven years.

Nigerian collapsed electricity grid

The group said: “According to the World Bank, epileptic power supply costs businesses in Nigeria about $29 billion yearly.”

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1119/2022 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to investigate how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply has been allegedly squandered by governments since 1999.”

SERAP also sought “an order of mandamus to compel President Buhari to ensure the prosecution of everyone suspected to be responsible for the missing electricity funds, as appropriate, and to ensure the tracing and full recovery of any missing public funds.”

SERAP argued that, “it is in the public interest to ensure justice and accountability for alleged corruption and mismanagement in the electricity sector, which has resulted in the failure of governments to solve Nigeria’s perennial power problem.”

 According to the group, “the staggering amounts of public funds alleged to have been stolen over the years in the sector have had catastrophic effects on the lives of millions of Nigerians, akin to crimes against humanity and against Nigerian people.”

SERAP argued that, “the failure to trace, find and recover the missing electricity funds is antithetical to the public interest, the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), and the country’s international obligations.”

The group also argued that, “Nigerians have, for far too long, been denied justice and the opportunity to get to the bottom of why they continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector – staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.”

It also argued that, “investigating the allegations of missing N11 trillion electricity funds, prosecuting suspected perpetrators and recovering any missing public funds would end a culture of impunity. It would also address the persistent collapse of the electricity grid, and improve access to and affordability of electricity in the country.”

The group, in addition, argued that, “corruption in the electricity sector and the lack of transparency and accountability in the use of public funds to support the operations of DISCOs have resulted in regular blackouts, electricity grid collapse, and unlawful hike in electricity tariffs.”

In the main, SERAP sought an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to refer to the International Criminal Court all unimplemented reports of corruption in the electricity sector gathering dust on the shelves, and to arrest and surrender those named in the reports to the court for prosecution.”  

Joined in the suit as respondent is the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN.

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo reads inter alia: “Nigeria has made legally binding commitments under the United Nations Convention against Corruption to ensure accountability in the management of public resources. These commitments ought to be fully upheld and respected.

“Corruption in the electricity sector has also continued to disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of the population who cannot readily afford expensive generators in order to have a reliable power supply.”

“The failure of successive governments and high-ranking government officials to prevent corruption in the electricity sector and to bring suspected perpetrators to justice is the primary cause of the persistent crisis in the electricity sector, including the exploitation of electricity consumers, and collapse of the electricity grid.”

It continued: “The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has adjudged the failure of the states to provide basic services, such as electricity as violating the right to health.

“Citizens are frustrated at persistent allegations of corruption in the sector, and the impacts on their human rights. Prosecuting perpetrators would address the grave travesty that has, for many years, occurred in the power sector.

“Impunity for corruption in the electricity sector has, for many years, forced ordinary Nigerians to stay in darkness, but still pay crazy electricity bills.

“Successive governments have failed to increase power generation and provide Nigerians with regular and uninterrupted electricity supply, with many electricity contracts shrouded in secrecy, and trillions of naira going down the drain.

“Impunity for corruption in electricity sector will continue, as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes.

“The Buhari administration, therefore, has legal obligation under Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, and Article 26 of the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure effective prosecution of  allegations of corruption,” it noted. /SHARE THIS

  • Tags: President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian electricity, SERAP,
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