Fri. Dec 9th, 2022
Jude Johnson

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly and thoroughly investigate how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply has been allegedly squandered by governments since 1999.”

SERAP said: “Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any missing public funds should be traced and fully recovered.”

SERAP also urges him 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.”

SERAP’s letter followed the collapse of the national grid, which has plunged the country into total darkness. Generation capacity has dropped to 2,000 megawatts with about 14 power plants shutting down.

In the letter dated 19 March, 2022 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “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.”

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

According to SERAP, “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 persistent collapse of the electricity grid, and improve access to and affordability of electricity in the country.”

The letter, read in part: “The situation will not improve unless you fulfil your campaign promises to probe corruption in the electricity sector, prosecute perpetrators, and recover any missing public funds.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Your government has constitutional and international obligations to ensure regular and uninterrupted supply of electricity, even in times of resource constraints.”

“SERAP urges you to urgently implement documented reports of cases of corruption in the electricity sector, and ensure full accountability and restitution.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.” 

“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.”

“SERAP notes that in your inaugural speech on May 29, 2015 you stated that, ‘it is a national shame that an economy of 180 million generates only 4,000MW, and distributes even less. We will not allow this to go on.’ The national grid collapse suggests that this promise remains unfulfilled.”

“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.”

“Corrupt officials and corrupt contractors in the electricity sector know well that their conduct is criminal and injurious, and the denial of human dignity coupled with a radical breach of solemn trust, aggravate their alleged crime.”

“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 made to 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 the electricity sector will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes. It is by pursuing these allegations and taking the evidence before the court that the truth will be revealed and justice best served.”

“The failure by successive governments to tell Nigerians the truth about allegations of corruption in the power sector amounts to a failure to ensure that electricity services are progressively made available, on the basis of equality and non-discrimination.”

“The details of the missing N11 trillion electricity funds are contained in a SERAP report titled: From Darkness to DarknessHow Nigerians are paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector.”

“According to the report, the total estimated financial loss to Nigeria from corruption in the electricity sector starting from the return to democracy in 1999 to date is over N11 trillion. This represents public funds, private equity and social investment (or divestments) in the power sector.”

“It is estimated that the loss may reach over N20 trillion in the next decade given the rate of Government investment and funding in the power sector amidst dwindling fortune and recurrent revenue shortfalls.”

“SERAP also urges you to immediately implement the judgment by Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor in suit number FHC/L/CS/105/19 which ordered your government to immediately publish the names of companies and the whereabouts of the contractors paid by governments since 1999 to carry out electricity projects across the country but disappeared with the money without executing any projects.”

“The enforcement of the judgment could potentially reveal individuals, contractors, and companies allegedly responsible for squandering over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply under successive governments, lead to the prosecution of suspected perpetrators, and recovery of any missing public funds.”

The letter was copied to Mr Malami.

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