The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the country’s Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, to widely publish the names of those indicted in the alleged misappropriation of over N6 trillion (about $1.3 billion) in the running of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) between 2000 and 2019.SERAP, the non-governmental organization, said in a statement released in Lagos on Monday that President Buhari should direct the justice minister 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 as documented in the recent Forensic Audit Report on NDDC.
In its open letter dated September 25, 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Mr. Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “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.
“Using the audit report to genuinely combat the corruption epidemic in the NDDC and rein in those indicted would alleviate poverty, improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services, and enhance the ability of your government to meet its human rights and anti-corruption obligations.
“Despite the country’s enormous oil wealth, ordinary Nigerians have derived very little benefit from trillions of naira budgeted for socio-economic development in the region primarily because of widespread grand corruption, and the entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators,” SERAP said.
According to SERAP, 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,” it added.
The letter was copied to Mr Malami; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).