SERAP gives Buhari ultimatum on missing N11trillion electricity fund

By Onyebuchi Sampson

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given President Muhammadu Buhari seven days to probe ‘missing N11trillion electricity fund.

The group wants the President to “direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, and appropriate anticorruption agencies to promptly and thoroughly investigate how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply has been allegedly squandered by governments since 1999.”

In a letter dated March 19, 2022 and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the group 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 copied to Malami, 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 noted that 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 added: “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 Trumpet gathered.

“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.

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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,” the group added.

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