africa

Buhari dragged to court for hiding looters identities


President Muhammadu Buhari has been dragged to court “over his failure to publish the names of those indicted for the misappropriation of over N6 trillion in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

In the suit filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) seeks “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to publish the names of those indicted.

The money was looted between 2000 and 2019, as documented in the recent Forensic Audit Report on NDDC.

The suit, which has been assigned to Justice Binta Nyako at Court 2, is fixed for hearing on 29 November 2021.

SERAP also seeks “an order of mandamus to compel President Buhari to direct Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice 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.”

SERAP argues that “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.”

“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 group says.

SERAP also argues that, “The Buhari administration has legal obligations under Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, and article 26 of the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure effective prosecution of allegations of corruption.”

“The audit report raises prima facie evidence of grand corruption and its staggering effects in the Niger Delta. Nigerians have the right to know the names of those indicted and other details in the report, as guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Freedom of Information Act.”

“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.”

SERAP also seeks “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to “widely publish and make available to Nigerians the Forensic Audit Report on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) submitted to him on September 2, 2021.”

Joined in the suit as respondent is Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN.

The suit was filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi.

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.’

SERAP in a letter dated 25 September 2021, requested President Buhari to publish the names of those indicted in the audit report.



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