The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over his failure to publish names of those indicted in the alleged misappropriation of over N6 trillion in the running of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) between 2000 and 2019, as documented in the recent Forensic Audit Report on NDDC.
SERAP had in a letter dated 25 September 2021, requested President Buhari to publish the names of those indicted in the audit report.
The Forensic Audit Report into the activities of the NDDC had revealed allegations of misappropriation of N6 trillion in the commission between 2000 and 2019, and that there were over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta.
According to the report, the NDDC operated a total of 362 bank accounts, which had resulted in, ‘lack of proper reconciliation of accounts.’
But in a suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/1360/2021, filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP sought an order of mandamus to direct and compel Buhari to publish the names of those indicted in the alleged misappropriation.
SERAP also sought an order of mandamus to compel President Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing N6trn, and to fully recover any stolen public funds.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “Nigeria has made legally binding commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure transparent management of public resources, and unhindered access to public information.
“These commitments ought to be fully upheld and respected. Directing and compelling President Buhari to publish the names of those indicted in the report would advance the victims’ right to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition, as well as improve public confidence in the fight against corruption.
“Publishing the names of those indicted would be entirely consistent with Nigeria’s constitutional and international anti-corruption commitments. Combating the corruption epidemic in the NDDC and reining in those indicted would alleviate poverty, improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services, and enhance the ability of the government to meet its human rights and anti-corruption obligations.
“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.”
The suit, which has been assigned to Justice Binta Nyako at Court 2, was fixed for hearing on November 29, 2021.
Udora Orizu in Abuja