The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has applauded the reported probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s $16 billion power project.
The SERAP, in a statement on Sunday signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said such move is an indication that former heads of state and other high-ranking public officials are not immune from investigation and prosecution for allegations of grand corruption.
“This probe is something SERAP has consistently called for. Nigerians have, for far too long, been denied justice and the opportunity to get to the bottom of why they continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector – staying in darkness and still made to pay crazy electricity bills,” the organisation said.
“The probe is timely, especially coming at a time of citizens’ frustrations at persistent allegations of corruption and the impacts on their human rights.”
Mr Oluwadare said the power sector has suffered a grave travesty for many years, as such, investigating allegations of grand corruption and prosecuting former heads and high-ranking officials where relevant would address the issue.
“While some put the exact cost of the project at $16 billion, others say it is $13.8 billion, but the uncertainty would not be an obstacle for the probe,” the deputy director said.
He noted that key contractors and about 18 top public officers allegedly involved in the power project scam during the Obasanjo administration, and those of former Presidents Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, may also be arrested.
The organisation urged the EFCC to urgently invite anyone suspected to be involved in the alleged corruption for questioning.
It advised the agency to also extend the probe to cover the alleged squandering of N11 trillion on the Power sector between 1999 and 2015.
It also prayed the unresolved case of the reported missing $12.4 billion oil windfall, allegedly spent between 1988 and 1993 by the government of former military leader, General Ibrahim Babangida, be investigated.
The statement added: “The EFCC has the full support of Nigerians in its efforts to hold high-ranking public officials to account for grand corruption.
“If consistently, fairly and diligently pursued, this probe would contribute to ending impunity for corruption, and to mobilizing and encouraging youth civic engagement in the anti-graft fight in the country,” SERAP said.
It also affirmed that it stands ready to work with the EFCC in pursuing all allegations of grand corruption.
“SERAP notes that former presidents have routinely faced corruption charges in countries like Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, Brazil, Montenegro, South Korea, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Slovakia, Peru and Mauritius.
“The probe by the EFCC would mean this list would grow even further to include Nigeria.
“Impunity for grand corruption will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes,” it said.
The SERAP added that “it is by pursuing these allegations and taking the evidence before the court that the truth will be revealed and justice best served.
“Addressing impunity in the Power sector should be total as this would help to further public perception of fairness and thoroughness of the EFCC.”
“Lack of regular electricity supply in the country had occasioned many other problems, including lack of access to potable water.
“The failure by successive governments to tell Nigerians the truth about allegations of corruption in the power sector amounts to a failure to ensure that electricity services are progressively made available, on the basis of equality and non-discrimination,” SERAP lamented.