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SERAP sued Nig. President to probe corruption

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By Mercy Kelani

Tinubu should be compelled to probe allegations on oil revenue and repair budget.

A Lawsuit has been filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. This lawsuit is regarding the government’s refusal to investigate the allegations that, between 2020 and 2021, about N200 billion budgeted for the repair of the refineries in Nigeria and over $15 billion oil revenues are unaccounted for and missing. The disclosure was made in a statement that had the signature of Kolawole Oluwadare, the Deputy Director for SERAP.

The 2021 report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) contains these allegations laid against the government. The law suit was filed on November 3, 2023, at the Federal High Court in Lagos State. In the suit, SERAP requests that the President is compelled to investigate the allegations on oil Revenue and the repair budget. SERAP also seeks that the president directs relevant anti-Corruption agencies to investigate corruption allegations that involves State Owned Enterprises (SOE) and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC).

Public trust & confidence in gov’t at all levels have been undermined.

It was also requested that President Bola Tinubu is directed to ensure usage of recovered proceeds of corruption towards the enhancement of the well-being of Nigerians. According to the argument of SERAP, there is a legal public interest that ensures accountability and justice for serious allegations like these ones. The Project added that if the reliefs are granted, there would be an end to the impunity of perpetrators and justice for corruption victims will be ensured.

As argued by SERAP, the corruption allegations contained by NEITI leave majority of the Nigerian citizens stuck in poverty, undermine the Nigerian economic development, and deprive Nigerians of opportunities. Unless the President is compelled to probe these matters, suspected perpetrators will not cease to enjoy impunity for crimes they commit. Public trust and confidence in governments at all levels have been undermined by many years of corruption and mismanagement allegations in how oil revenues are spent and impunity of perpetrators.

There is a constitutional duty to ensure transparency.

Also, an argument by SERAP revealed that the discoveries by NEITI could imply a serious violation of the provisions of the amended 1999 Nigerian Constitution, the obligations of the country under the United Nations (UN) Convention against Corruption. Part of the filed suit read that: “The Tinubu government has a constitutional duty to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the country’s oil wealth.” Therefore, SERAP requests an order for the compelling of the President to enforce mechanisms for transparency and accountability in the sector.

According to the United Nations (UN) Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, the government is obligated to ensure effective prevention and investigation of the embezzlement of the wealth and natural resources of the country. It also mandates that non-state actors and public officials are held accountable for any form of violation. Article 26 of the UN Convention likewise obligates the government to see to effective, dissuasive and proportionate sanctions.

Nig. is concerned with ensuring greater governmental accountability.

More so, the overall general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, which states that sanctions must consider the extent of the allegations of corruption is complemented by article 26. Also, Nigeria is regarded as a participating state of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which is concerned with ensuring greater governmental accountability. This accountability is to ensure the use of the wealth derived from natural resources by creating a set of global norms on revenue transparency.


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