The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over his failure to probe allegations that about N11 trillion set aside for electricity supply may have been stolen or mismanaged since 1999.
Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, is also a respondent in the suit. The high court is yet to fix a date for hearing the suit, SERAP stated on Sunday.
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 is also seeking “an order of mandamus to compel President Buhari to ensure the prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing electricity fund, as appropriate, and to ensure the tracing and full recovery of any missing public funds”.
SERAP is arguing that it is in the public interest to ensure justice and accountability in the electricity sector, which has failed to solve Nigeria’s perennial power problem.
“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,” SERAP argued.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, read in part: “Nigeria has made legally binding commitments under the UN Convention against corruption to ensure accountability in the management of public resources. These commitments ought to be fully upheld and respected.
“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.
“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 made to pay crazy electricity bills.”
Details of the missing N11 trillion electricity funds are contained in a 2017 SERAP report titled ”From Darkness to Darkness: How 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 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.”
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