President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged by the Socio–Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) to publish names of those indicted in the alleged misappropriation of over N6 trillion in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) between 2000 and 2019 and ensure that the perpetrators be brought to book.
In a letter dated September 25 and signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation urged the President “to direct Malami and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing N6 trillion, and to fully recover any misappropriated public funds.”
SERAP said despite the country’s enormous oil wealth, ordinary Nigerians have derived very little benefit because of widespread corruption.
“It is in the public interest to promptly publish the names of those indicted in the audit report, and to ensure that they face prosecution, as appropriate. Taking these decisive steps would advance the victims’ right to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition, as well as improve public confidence in the fight against corruption.”
SERAP said using the audit report to genuinely combat the corruption epidemic in the NDDC and rein in those indicted, would alleviate poverty.
“The level of grand corruption in the NDDC, and the devastating effects on poor Nigerians are serious enough to meet the requirements of crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Nigeria is a state party. The public interest in publishing the names of those indicted by the audit report outweighs any considerations to withhold the information, as there would be no prejudice against those whose names are published as long as the information is appropriately framed and truthful.
“The audit report raises prima facie evidence of grand corruption and its staggering effects in the Niger Delta. Publishing widely the report and the names of those indicted would remove the possibility of obstruction of justice, and provide insights relevant to the public debate on the ongoing efforts to combat grand corruption and the longstanding impunity of perpetrators in the country.
“According to our information, the forensic audit report into the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) reveals grim allegations of misappropriation of N6 trillion in the commission between 2000 and 2019, and that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta.
“According to the report, the NDDC operated a total of 362 bank accounts, which resulted in a ‘lack of proper reconciliation of accounts. The missing N6 trillion and over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta have continued to have a negative impact on the human rights of Nigerians, undermining their access to basic public goods and services, such as education, healthcare, and regular and uninterrupted electricity supply.”