SERAP Asks Buhari To Clear Air On Ownership Of Ikoyi Funds

Alleged Corruption: SERAP Writes Buhari Over SGF's CaseFollowing the discovery of the sum of 13 billion Naira by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) at Osborne Tower, Ikoyi, Lagos, the Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to clarify the issue in the ownership of the money.

The organisation also called on the president to “ensure legal backing for his government’s whistle-blowing policy by vigorously pursuing the passing, by the National Assembly of the whistle-blower bills.”

A statement, signed by the Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, read in part: “No good comes from secrecy in governance, as officials who have become accustomed to operating without accountability are loath to relinquish the power that comes from conducting their business without public scrutiny.”

“The government’s increasing reliance on whistle-blowers’ tips to fight corruption has to be backed by some level of transparency and accountability in the real identities of those claiming recovered cash. Clearing the doubts surrounding the real identities of those behind the Ikoyi cash haul would demonstrate that the president values transparency over secrecy, provide further encouragement to blow the whistle on governmental corruption, and enhance the public right to know.”

Also according to the organisation, “Democracy abhors secrecy, and for Nigerians to be able to hold elected leaders accountable, they must have access to information such as on the real identities of those behind the Ikoyi cash haul. This transparency is fundamental to the operation of the government’s whistle-blower policy, and inextricably rooted in the notions of good governance and the rule of law under the 1999 Nigerian constitution (as amended).”

“No good comes from secrecy in governance, as officials who have become accustomed to operating without accountability are loath to relinquish the power that comes from conducting their business without public scrutiny. When public authorities resist efforts to shine a light on their activities, it gives the impression that there is something to hide. It’s counter-productive to overstate national security based secrecy needs, as secrecy encourages poorly informed and under-vetted decision-making.”

“Public scrutiny is a prerequisite for changing harmful, entrenched practices. Rather than operating the whistle-blowers policy as hidden, mysterious mechanism at the far edge of democracy, this government should make the operation of policy more transparent and accessible to the public. Both transparency and accountability are necessary to uphold the rights of victims of corruption and ensure that suspected perpetrators are held to account. The ‘sky will not fall’ if the true identities of those behind the Ikoyi cash haul are revealed.”

“It’s clear that as the EFCC continues to uncover more suspected looted or ill-gotten cash, those blowing the whistle will need greater level of protection. But without outlawing retaliation and attacks against whistle-blowers, and taking a firm stance on protecting them, the incentive of bounty rewards would be negated, as potential whistle-blowers may be discouraged from performing invaluable public interest service.

“It shouldn’t be the case that the government knows the risks of whistle-blowing and yet fails to provide the needed legal protection against retaliation and attacks, regardless of whether whistle-blowers are entitled to bounties.

“The policy of giving whistle-blowers some percentage of recovered loot would seem to be a game changer in the fight against corruption but this government now has to squarely address the significant risks that those who blow the whistle face by urgently working with the National Assembly to ensure the necessary legal backing that would ensure protection against reprisals and attacks.

“The government should ensure that the National Assembly expedites the process of passing the Whistle-Blower Bill, as ensuring that the bill is passed without further delay would recognize the necessity of whistle-blowers and the value they add to the anti-corruption fight by reporting otherwise unknown corruption-related information. It would also ensure that whistle-blowers are fully protected from any retaliation and attacks they may experience, and that the government fully appreciates the information they provide.

“Continuing delay in the passing of the Whistle-Blower Bill would have a chilling effect on potential whistle-blowers and hinder the public’s ability to learn about the kind of cash haul found in Ikoyi and elsewhere across the country. It’s also contrary to Article 33 of the UN Convention on Corruption, which Nigeria has ratified. The convention obligates the government to put in place appropriate measures to provide protection against any unjustified treatment for any person who reports in good faith and on reasonable grounds to the competent authorities any facts concerning offences established in accordance with the convention.”

Following the recovery, a Federal High Court in Lagos, has ordered the temporary forfeiture of the fund, (43 million Dollars, 23 million Naira and 27,000 Pounds), to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, both Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state and the National Intelligence Agency last week reportedly claimed ownership of the cash.

SERAP Urges Osinbajo To Warn Trump Against Harassment Of Nigerians

Alleged Corruption: SERAP Writes Buhari Over SGF's CaseThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to “tell the U.S President, Donald Trump, in no uncertain terms that Nigeria would not tolerate any harassment and unfair treatment of her citizens with valid multiple-entry U.S visas at U.S airports.”

This was revealed in a statement released on Tuesday and signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.

It follows a disclosure by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that in the last few weeks, the office has received a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry U.S visas being denied entry and sent back to Nigeria.

According to Mrs Dabiri -Erewa, such affected persons were sent back immediately on the next available flight and their visas were cancelled.

SERAP further said: “The Nigerian government must stand up to Trump and defend Nigerians’ internationally recognised right to freedom of movement just as the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi did for his own citizens.

“The Iraqi leader ensured that his country was taken off the obnoxious executive order list. Osinbajo must now show the leadership needed to defend the country’s citizens who are facing unfair treatment in the hands of U.S immigration officers.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) guarantees liberty of movement, and provides in article 13 that, “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

“2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. The declaration also guarantees the right of everyone including Nigerians to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the declaration can be fully realized.”

“SERAP notes that Eleanor Roosevelt, late wife of American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the UDHR drafting committee.

“On the basis of the UDHR, persons are entitled to move from one place to another and to establish themselves in a place of their choice. The enjoyment of this right must not be made dependent on any particular purpose or reason for the person wanting to move or to stay in a place. Any restrictions must be in conformity with international standards.

“The Nigerian authorities must ensure that Nigerians’ liberty of movement is protected from interference by the trump government.

“The authorities should carefully study the revised executive order and take proactive measures to prevent any harassment and unfair treatment of Nigerians in the hands of U.S immigration officers.”

Alleged Corruption: SERAP Writes Buhari Over SGF’s Case

SERAP Urges Buhari To Hand SGF Over To EFCC, ICPCThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari over what it termed ‘grass-cutting’ allegations against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Lawal Babachir.

The agency has urged him to use his good office and leadership position to “urgently refer the allegations of corruption against Mr Lawal to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for further investigation.

They have also asked that “if any relevant and admissible evidence is found, he should be made to face prosecution.”

In addition to that, the organization has asked President Buhari to “urgently publish the outcome of the investigation conducted on the matter by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, (SAN), and to ask Mr Malami to hand over the file to both the EFCC and ICPC.

No Double Standards

In a statement signed by the SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said, “We are concerned that the failure to suspend Mr Lawal from his position as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, pending the investigation by Mr Malami.

“The perceived lack of transparency in the outcome of that investigation may have created the impression that your government is treating Mr Lawal as a sacred cow.”

The letter, sent to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbayo reads in part:

“SERAP believes that Mr Lawal’s case presents your administration with a real opportunity to reassure a lot of Nigerians who may be worried about the direction of travel of your anti-corruption agenda.

“Rather than assuming a defensive posture to the matter, we advise you to use this case to show to Nigerians that there will be no two standards of justice in your Administration’s fight against corruption.

“SERAP also believes the recommended approach would help to address the growing public suspicion and pessimism about your government’s ability to fight high-level official corruption to a standstill, and to avoid any collateral consequences.

“It is absolutely important that the public should have complete confidence and trust in your administration’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption and the impunity of perpetrators.

“It is true that Mr Lawal enjoys a constitutionally and internationally guaranteed right to a fair trial, which includes the right to be presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

“But we believe that the right to presumption of innocence is one that should have personally been raised by Mr Lawal and not your government, especially given his position as Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

“SERAP believes that the guilt or innocence of Mr Lawal is for the court to decide, following a due process of law.”

Inflated Contracts

To assist the government in achieving public confidence and trust and effectively spread the gospel of anti-corruption, the agency made the following recommendations:

  1. “Urgently refer the allegations against Mr Lawal to both the EFCC and ICPC for further investigations, and if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, for him to face prosecution.
  2. “Pending the referral to the EFCC and ICPC, suspend Mr Lawal from his position as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, pending the outcome of any investigation by the EFCC and ICPC.
  3. “Promptly and widely publish the outcome of investigation carried out by Mr Malami and instruct that any files relating to that investigation be handed over to the EFCC and ICPC to assist in their follow-up investigation.”

According to SERAP,  the President had instructed Mr Malami to carry out further investigation into the alleged breach of Nigeria’s law in handling contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East, (PINE).

“Among other allegations contained in the Senate’s report is that Mr Lawal’s company, Global Vision Ltd, benefited from inflated contracts of over 200 million Naira to clear ‘Invasive Plant Specie’ in Yobe State.

“According to the report, Mr Lawal was still the Director of Global Vision as of the time the contract was awarded in March 2016, and remains the signatory to the company’s account.”

“SERAP further notes your instruction to Mr Malami to carry out further investigation into the allegations, as well as your recent letter to the Senate effectively raising some technical and procedural concerns about the report which indicted Mr Lawal.”

Edo Speaker Defends N300m Benefit For Ex-Governors, Deputies

Edo Speaker Defends N300m Housing Benefit For Governors And DeputiesThe Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Justin Okonoboh, says the House is justified in approving the sum of 300 million naira as housing benefit for former governors and deputies.

The Speaker said this in reaction to allegations of waste of public funds against the House in various quarters, particularly social media.

He argued that the amount is not so outrageous in the face of current economic realities in the country, adding that the payment is one time only.

“Some talked about the amount and I think that was quite moderate because the law says any part of the country. If you want to use 200 million naira in Lagos, it probably might just be a grant to them because they need to add money to build a befitting house in Lagos or wherever,” he said.

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the idea of approving 300 million naira retirement benefits for the immediate past governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and his deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu.

The rights group has called on Governor Godwin Obaseki to “immediately withdraw the bill, and use the funds to clear the backlog of pension arrears spanning between seven and 45 months.”

SERAP’s call followed reports of amendment of Law for Pension Rights of the Governor and Deputy Governor by the Edo State House of Assembly, with the immediate past governor and deputy governor expected to be some of the beneficiaries.

The new amendment contains provision of residential buildings worth N200m and N100m for the governor and his deputy at the expiration of their tenures. The bill also provides that the buildings could be sited in any location of their choice.

Former Speaker’s Suspension

The Edo Speaker also commented on the suspension of former Speaker of the House, Victor Edoror.

Following his impeachment on May 4, an ad-hoc committee headed by Emmanuel Agbaje was set up to investigate the former speaker over alleged misappropriation of fund.

Edoror was suspended over his failure to appear before the committee, and the current Speaker insisted that the action followed due process.

“I set up another committee to invite him so that we can hear from him to give us their report within three months as it is usual during that period he remains suspended, that’s what we’ve just done.

“We are in the same party. It is not a political thing, it’s not a personal thing, we are from the same senatorial district. I actually thought I was doing him a favour,” he explained.

SERAP Asks Obaseki To Withdraw N300m Mansions Bill For Oshiomhole, Deputy

SERAP Condemns Reported N300m Mansions Bill For Oshiomhole, DeputySocio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the idea of approving 300 million naira mansion retirement benefits for immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, and his former deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu.

The rights group has called on Governor Godwin Obaseki to “immediately withdraw the bill, and use the funds to clear the backlog of pension arrears spanning between seven and 45 months.”

SERAP’s call followed reports of amendment of Law for Pension Rights of the Governor and Deputy Governor by the Edo State House of Assembly, with the immediate past governor and deputy governor expected to be some of the beneficiaries.

The new amendment contains provision of residential buildings worth N200m and N100m for the governor and his deputy at the expiration of their tenures. The bill also provides that the buildings could be sited in any location of their choice.

But in a statement dated November 17, 2016, SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni said: “Coming at a time the Edo State government can’t even pay its pensioners and salaries of workers, the amendment by the Edo State House of Assembly is immoral, unfair, unconstitutional, unreasonable, and a rip-off on a massive scale.

“Governor Obaseki must reject this grotesque bill if he’s to fulfil his election promises and lift millions of Edo State pensioners out of extreme poverty.

“This so-called proposed legislation means that millions of Edo pensioners and workers will have to fund the massive and unjust pensions for former governor, Oshiomhole and his deputy and others that will come after them.”

Edo-State-house-of-Assembly
Edo State House of Assembly

The statement furher read that “many of the retirees whose pensions have not been paid have been evicted from their apartments due to their inability to pay their rents””.

According to SERAP’s information, one of such retirees is Ihama Friday who at 60 is now squatting with friends. Another pensioner Osa-Aighobarueghia who retired as a head teacher “continues to live a life off debts because the Edo State government has refused to pay her 30 months’ pension benefits”.

“SERAP is aware that the Edo State government is not the only state passing such obnoxious pension laws to provide outrageous retirement benefits to former governors and deputy governors and that many of them are already in the National Assembly receiving multiple benefits and putting their personal bank accounts ahead of the common good.

“SERAP is finalising a comprehensive legal strategy to challenge these unjust laws and to name and shame those who continue to benefit from such laws.

“Nigerians should not be made to subsidise these bloated pensions and clearly undeserved perks. Governor Obaseki should not see disadvantaged Nigerians and poor pensioners according to Orwell’s Animal Farm dictum: ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others’.

“Approving the amendment by the Edo State House of Assembly will amount to a fundamental breach of the Governor’s constitutional oath declaration to serve the interest of justice, common good, transparency and accountability,” the group said.

SERAP maintained that it is appalled by “this apparently unfair and discriminatory law”, as there is no justification for such law at a time the pensions systems across the country are in poor shape, and pensioners continue to be denied the fruit of their labour.

“Former governors and their deputies can’t lawfully give to themselves a steady stream of public funds for life at a time millions of pensioners including in Edo State face cut to their pension schemes and remain in poverty without any state support,” it concluded.

Corruption Allegations: SERAP Calls On UK Govt. To Extradite Alison-Madueke

SERAP, Alison-Madueke, Petroleum Minister, CorruptionCivil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the UK authorities to “extradite Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke to face charges of corruption and money laundering.

Coming ahead of the International Anticorruption Summit in the UK, SERAP says the charges she is currently facing in UK court do not sufficiently capture the gravity of her alleged crimes, and the increasing allegations of corruption against her in Nigeria.

The request followed announcement during the week by the Central Bank of Nigeria that it was carrying out special investigations into the roles played by banks in certain financial transactions, especially the 23 billion Naira reportedly shared to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by officials of the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration to influence the outcome of the last general elections.

According the SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, “The anticorruption summit in London provides an important opportunity for the UK government to support the ongoing fight against corruption in Nigeria, and to send a powerful message that the UK will not provide sanctuary or condone impunity for corrupt public officials.”

The statement reads: “As a state party to the UN Convention against Corruption, the UK government can use the convention as a basis for the extradition of Mrs Alison-Madueke back to Nigeria.

“We urge the Nigerian authorities to without delay submit a request to the UK authorities for the extradition of Mrs Alison-Madueke, explicitly making the point that Nigeria will guarantee her a due process-trial.

“If the UK refuses extradition request, Nigeria should consider submitting the matter for arbitration and if this cannot resolve the case, refer it to the International Court of Justice for adjudication. The Nigerian authorities should also consider filing a civil action against Mrs Alison-Madueke in the UK court.

“By sending Mrs Alison-Madueke back to her country, the UK will be sending a message that high-level official corruption will not go unpunished no matter where the suspected perpetrator hides and thus contribute to the fight against impunity for grand corruption. The UK indeed has an obligation to extradite Mrs Alison-Madueke through international cooperation and collaboration in good faith with Nigeria.

“We believe that effective prosecution in Nigeria is feasible, and this will bring justice closer to Nigerians who are direct victims of corruption. Extraditing Mrs Alison-Madueke back to Nigeria is equally important for allowing easier access to witnesses, evidence, victims of corruption; creating a deep connection between Nigerians and the impact of the trial; and empowering victims of corruption.”

“SERAP believes that there is probable cause that Mrs Alison-Madueke participated in the extraditable acts involving some banks in Nigeria, whether directly or indirectly. The allegations of corruption against her are strong enough for Prime Minister David Cameron to facilitate an extradition proceeding.

“The UK shouldn’t be a country of refuge for corrupt officials if it is to avoid a miscarriage of justice in high-level corruption cases. But if Mrs Alison-Madueke is not extradited, the UK will have a responsibility to amend her charges to include the fresh allegations against her and to try her on the merits under the UK laws as if she had committed the crimes there.

“Mr Cameron risks missing an ‘open goal’ unless he shows that the UK is unreservedly committed to seeking justice for victims of corruption, and international cooperation in the fight against corruption by urgently facilitating the extradition of Mrs Alison-Madueke to Nigeria so that she can explain her role in the continuing disclosure of allegations of corruption and money laundering involving several Nigerian banks which allegedly took place during her time in office as petroleum minister.

“SERAP is also concerned that UK banks continue to accept millions of pounds from corrupt Nigerian politicians. Without the complicity of these banks, it would be much harder for corrupt politicians including from Nigeria to loot public funds or accept bribes.

“Therefore, in order to meet the requirements of the UN Convention against Corruption, Mr Cameron will need to do more to reform and crack down on his country’s financial institutions that continue to provide safe havens for corrupt funds from Nigeria with almost absolute impunity.

“It’s also important for Mr Cameron to work towards improving judicial cooperation between Nigeria and the UK if stolen assets stashed in the UK are to be fully repatriated and if he is not to send a message that corrupt suspects can get away with their crimes without consequences.”

Saraki’s Senate Is Perpetrating A Parliament Of Men, Not Of Laws – SERAP

fuel scarcitySocio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Wednesday accused the 8th Senate under the leadership of Dr Bukola Saraki of perpetrating a parliament of men and not of laws.

The non governmental organisation has also called on the leadership of the Senate to immediately withdraw the unconstitutional summon for Justice Danladi Umar, Chairman Code of Conduct Tribunal to appear before its Ethics Committee.

The Senate, according to SERAP, “can’t arrogate to itself the power to summon judges without violating constitutional safeguards.”

The group said that “The summon represents a direct assault upon the principle of judicial independence as it undermines the constitutional principle of separation of powers and guarantee of a judicial system that is free from outside influence of whatever kind and from whatever source”.

The statement, signed by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, adds that “the constitutional power of the Senate can only be validly exercised if it’s intended to be in aid of the function of law-making itself.

“There is clearly no suggestion of contemplated legislation in this case. The Senate not only has exceeded the limit of its own authority, but assumed a power which could only be properly exercised by another branch of the government.

“We therefore advise Justice Umar to ignore its invitation as it is of no legal effect whatsoever.

“The Senate in its blind zeal to protect the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who is facing corruption charges before the Tribunal is working hard to destroy the foundation of the country’s constitutional democracy. This is a blatant usurpation of power, and an attack upon the integrity of constitutional government and the rule of law.

“The Senate doesn’t have the power to summon any judge, including Justice Umar. If there is any credible allegation of corruption against Justice Umar, it ought to be dealt with by the appropriate law enforcement agencies and that cannot be the Senate.”

“The Senate can’t lawfully exercise any authority beyond the limits marked out by the constitution. It is manifestly repugnant to constitutional safeguards which assigns to each organ of the government its exclusive functions and a limited sphere of action. This invitation, coming on the heels of the decision by the Tribunal for Saraki’s trial to be conducted day-by-day pursuant to Section 396(6) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, is clearly politically motivated.”

“While the Senate is empowered under Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to conduct an inquiry for the purpose of enabling it to among others make laws, correct any defects in existing laws, expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence, it doesn’t possess the power to get involved in alleged criminal matter.

“The Senate is in no sense a court, police or anti-corruption agency, and for it to attempt to act as one, would bring about insurmountable legal and political problems.”, SERAP said.

Court Orders Nigerian Leaders To Account For Recovered Stolen Funds

Nigerian-Leaders-from-1999A Federal High Court on Tuesday ordered the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that his government, the governments of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Yar’adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan account fully for all recovered funds.

The Court sitting in Lagos declared that successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 breached the fundamental Principles of Transparency and Accountability for failing to disclose details about the spending of recovered stolen public funds.

Justice Mohammed Idris made the order while delivering judgment in a Freedom of Information suit filed by a non-governmental organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

In an interview with Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the onus was now on the Accountant General of the Federation working closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria and other relevant organisations of the government to comply with the court’s order.

“The information we received was that certain recoveries were made from Abacha, some from Ibori and some other public servants.

“We are not able to see. For Abacha alone it was about six billion dollars.  If such monies were recovered, we should be able to see on ground where those monies went in terms of expenditures.

“In spite of such recoveries, there has been no serious improvement on the road networks in Nigeria, nothing like improvement in the health facilities in Nigeria, the electricity system is still very comatose.

“That is why we think that whatever happens, this is a democracy, you must let the people know what going on. It is as simple as that,” Mr Mumuni said.

One of such recovered loots that Nigerians will like to know how it was utilised is the loot of a former military leader, General Sanni Abacha.

The National Economic Council had in December last year said the loots recovered from late General Abacha was $26.4 million and £19 million as at November.

45% Increase In Electricity Tariffs Will Violate UN Ruling – SERAP

tariffSocio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has advised the Minister of Power, Mr Babatunde Fashola, to “ensure that regulatory authorities are not allowed to get away with 45% increase in electricity tariffs by promoting compliance with the November 2013 ruling on the matter by two UN special rapporteurs”.

This followed a nationwide protest on Monday by the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress against the increase in electricity tariffs, demanding an immediate reversal of the hike.

In a statement on Tuesday, signed by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said, “Nigeria is an important member of the UN and have voluntarily accepted its charter and treaties. Therefore, any effort to increase electricity tarrifs should be guided by the recommendations by the UN and dialogue with organised labour and other stakeholders.”

The organisation noted that “The United Nations published the Joint Letter of Concern sent to the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan in which they expressed concerns that “access to electricity (and regularity of supply) is a significant problem in Nigeria,” and raised eight questions for the government to answer within 60 days.”

The letter with reference No NGA 5/2013 and dated 26 November 2013, and signed by two special rapporteurs expressed concerns that “at the end of 2012, Nigeria with a population of about 160 million people only generated about 4,000 megawatts of electricity, which is ten times less than some other countries in the region with less population.”

The UN special rapporteurs argued that “all beneficiaries of the right to adequate housing should have sustainable access to energy for cooking, heating and lighting. The failure of States to provide basic services such as electricity is a violation of the right to health.”

The rapporteurs’ Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Ms. Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona and Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Ms. Raquel Rolnik, sent the letter following a petition lodged in 2015 by a coalition of human rights activists, labour, journalists and lawyers led by SERAP. The petition alleged that increase in electricity tarrifs would “have detrimental impact on the human rights of those living in poverty in the country.”

Consequently, the special rapporteurs wanted answers to the following questions:

1. Are the facts alleged by SERAP and others accurate?
2. What kind of impact assessments were conducted to gauge the potential impact of the electricity tariff increases on the human rights of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria? If so, provide details
3. Did public consultations take place, including with potentially affected persons and especially people living in extreme poverty? If yes, please give details of the dates, participants and outcomes of the consultations.
4. Was accessible and culturally adequate information about the measure actively disseminated through all available channels prior to consultation?
5. What measures have been put in place to ensure that the human rights of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria will not be undermined by the increase in electricity tariffs? In particular, what measures are in place to ensure that they can enjoy their right to adequate housing, including sustainable access to energy for cooking, heating and lighting, which is a component of this right?
6. Are there any accessible independent review or complaint mechanisms in place, such as administrative mechanisms through the NERC Power Consumer Assemblies (PCA), available for individuals to challenge the classification of customers and/or the corresponding tariffs? If such mechanisms exist, please give details.
7. What mechanisms exist to ensure transparency, accountability and regular monitoring over the use of tariff revenue within the government? What mechanisms are available to address allegations of corruption, or other complaints? What mechanisms are in place to monitor and regulate service provision by private actors, as required under the State’s duty to protect?
8. Please describe any existing policies or measures aimed to promote affordability of electricity provision for people living in extreme poverty. Are any subsidies already available and implemented? What is being done to mitigate the hardship imposed by increased tariffs, especially for persons living in poverty?

The special rapporteurs also wanted answers to the alleged “mismanagement throughout the privatization process, and around 3.5 billion USD that has been mismanaged annually over the last ten years, and a total of 16 billion USD released to improve electricity supply in the country that has not been properly accounted for. The Business Units which have taken over from the PHCN participate in large-scale corruption such as graft from exorbitant consumer bills, rejection of payment to independent third parties such as banks to keep management of funds secret, unprecedented disconnection of consumers’ power lines, general bribery and fraud amongst staff, adding up to over NGN 1 billion extra charged to consumers annually.”

According to them, “The increases in electricity tariffs, problems with measuring electricity usage, lack of improvement in the quality of the service and lack of transparency in the use of funds, reportedly disproportionately impact on those with little disposable income, as well as exacerbate the scarcity of energy supply for those who already cannot afford electricity even if connected to the grid.”

They pointed to Nigeria’s international obligations “under various international human rights instruments and in particular: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, acceded to by Nigeria in 1993), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, ratified by Nigeria in 1993), the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, ratified by Nigeria in 1985) and the African (Banjul) Charter on Human Rights and People’s rights (ratified by Nigeria in 1983).”

“The human rights framework does not dictate a particular form of service delivery and leaves it to States to determine the best ways to implement their human rights obligations. However, the State cannot exempt itself from its human rights obligations when involving non-State actors in service provision. On the contrary, when non-State actors are involved in service provision, there is a shift to an even stronger focus on the obligation of the State to protect,” the special rapporteurs added.

They further argued that, “As part of its obligation to protect, the State must safeguard all persons within their jurisdiction from infringements of their rights by third parties. Involving non-State actors in service provision requires, inter alia, clearly defining the scope of functions delegated to them, overseeing their activities through setting regulatory standards, and monitoring compliance.”

“Given the fact that in Nigeria, electricity provision has been outsourced to the private sector, the obligation remains for the Nigerian government to ensure that private sector actions do not result in violations of the right to an adequate standard of living,” the special rapporteurs argued.

Other signatories to the petition sent to the special rapporteurs in September 2013 are: the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE); Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ); Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC); Women Empowerment and Legal Aid Initiative (WELA); Partnership for Justice (PJ); Education Rights Campaign (ERC); Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Lagos State Council; Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Lagos; Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja branch; National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE), and Joint Action Front (JAF).

SERAP Opposes Immunity Clause For Lawmakers

Immunity clauseThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has warned the National Assembly not to contemplate its proposed immunity clause for its leadership.

In a statement, the civil society organisation said that contemplating an immunity clause for the Senate President and others at this time, is simply being lawless.

SERAP was reacting to the recent reported disclosure by the House of Representatives Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, that the lawmakers were contemplating a constitutional amendment to include a clause that would shield its leadership from criminal prosecution.

Among those to enjoy the proposed immunity are the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, the Speaker House of Representatives, his deputy and the Chief justice of Nigeria.

SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, asked the National Assembly to immediately halt the process.

He said that it would be a huge setback in the ongoing campaign for accountability and transparency in governance.

The civil society group is accusing proponents of the immunity clause of abusing power and embarking on political corruption, adding that they were doing so in breach of public trust.

Al-Bashir’s Departure: SERAP Seeks Sanctions Against South Africa

Omar al-BashirThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on “the International Criminal Court (ICC) to refer South Africa to the UN Security Council for allowing Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country, ahead of a court ruling on whether he should be transferred to the ICC to stand trial on genocide and war crimes charges”.

The Executive Director of the organisation, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in a statement said: “If it is true that the government of South Africa has blatantly disregarded the process of its own court to free international fugitive from justice, then there should be consequences otherwise the authority and credibility of the ICC and the entire regime of international justice will be seriously undermined”.

Suspension Or Expulsion

According to SERAP, “the South African authorities told the court that President al-Bashir had gone shopping when they knew that he was already on his way back to Khartoum.

“This is a slap on the wrist, and clearly exposes the judiciary to ridicule and disrespect. It also shows that the government has absolutely no respect for the rule of law and the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

“As provided for by the Rome Statute of the ICC, the court should now request UN Security Council sanctions against South Africa. Under the Rome Statute, the UN Security Council may do what it deems appropriate. Without effective sanctions and repercussions states like South Africa are not likely to be held accountable for breaching their international obligations and commitments,” the organisation said.

It also asked the ICC to work with other states parties to the Rome Statute to consider the possibility of suspension or expulsion of South Africa from the Rome Statute.

The group stressed that the action would send a strong message to other members that their breach of the Rome Statute would have consequences.

“This can give the ICC enforcement mechanisms the much needed legitimacy and authority to effectively pursue international justice and secure remedies for victims,” the organisation further stressed.

Mr Al-Bashir left the African Union Summit for Khartoum, flying out of a military base in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria hours before the Pretoria High Court will rule on whether he should be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), who have charged him with war crimes and genocide.

The Sudanese leader was in Johannesburg for the 25th Assembly of Heads of State and government of the African Union.

On Sunday, the court ordered Mr Al-Bashir not to leave the country until the case had been heard.

 

Xenophobia: ICC To Probe Zuma, Zulu King

serap have tasked the icc over statement made by the zulu king on xenophobiaFollowing a petition from Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has decided to probe the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other African citizens in South Africa.

This development was disclosed in a statement today by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni.

SERAP had in a petition, dated 23 April 2015 and sent to the Court requested the Prosecutor, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, to use her “good offices and position to investigate allegations of hate speech by the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, which has resulted in killing, violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens living in South Africa, as well as the complicity/negligence of the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent these crimes against civilian population.”

In response, the ICC in a letter dated 28 April 2015, and signed by M.P. Dillon, Head of Information & Evidence Unit of the Office of the Prosecutor said, “The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court acknowledges receipt of your documents. This communication has been duly entered in the Communications Register of the Office. We will give consideration to this communication, as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. As soon as a decision is reached, we will inform you, in writing, and provide you with reasons for this decision.”

SERAP in its petition had urged Mrs Bensouda to “bring to justice anyone who is responsible for these international crimes prohibited under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”

SERAP also said that it “considers the use of speech by the Zulu King to promote hatred and/or incite violence against non-nationals such as Nigerians, particularly in the media as a clear violation of the provisions of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court.

“Grave statements by political leaders/prominent people that express discrimination and cause violence against non-nationals cannot be justified under any law. This hate speech generated fear and hatred that created the conditions for violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens. SERAP believes that this has given rise to individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” the organisation said.

The organisation argued that, “the statement by the Zulu King amounts to a harmful form of expression which incites or otherwise promotes hatred, discrimination, violence and intolerance. We are seriously concerned that crimes against humanity are often accompanied or preceded by the kind of statement made by the Zulu King.”

“Once the climate of violence has been created, direct and public incitement to crimes builds on it, exacerbating the situation by further heating up passions and directing South Africans’ hatred towards non-nationals such as Nigerians. Hate speech by King Zulu is legally tied to contemporaneous, large-scale violence and inhumane and discriminatory treatment of Nigerians and other African citizens,” the organisation also argued.

The organisation also said that, “The statement by the Zulu King has contributed to a climate of fear, demonization and dehumanization of Nigerians and other African citizens, thus violating their human dignity through humiliation and expulsion from the human community. SERAP is seriously concerned that hate speech by the Zulu King amounts to crime against humanity of persecution and has directly contributed to an infringement of the right to life, equality and non-discrimination of Nigerians and other African citizens.”

“SERAP considers the statement by the Zulu King and the apparent complicity/negligence by the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent the violence and discrimination as amounting to active encouragement of South African citizens to develop feelings of contempt for Nigerians and other African citizens; as amounting to incitement to violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens, and to mistreat them; and as amounting to an appeal for South African citizens to separate themselves from Nigerians and other African citizens,” the organisation further stressed.

“The statement by the Zulu King and the apparent complicity/negligence by the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent the violence and discrimination has contributed to the level of persecution against Nigerians and other African citizens. According to Professor Bassiouni, persecution in this instance is “a state action leading to the infliction upon an individual of harassment, torment, oppression, or discriminatory measures, designed to or likely to produce physical or mental suffering or economic harm, because of the victims’ beliefs, views, or membership in a given identifiable group (such as non-nationals),” the organisation also said.

The petition further reads:

“In the Mugesera case, the Canadian Supreme Court held that hate speech may constitute persecution, even if it does not result in the commission of acts of violence. In arriving at this conclusion, the court considered that a link was demonstrated between the speech at issue and the widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population. Thus, the post-World War II jurisprudence generally establishes that hate speech not urging an audience to commit imminent violence can constitute persecution.”

“The government does not have the political will to bring those suspected to be responsible for crimes under international law to justice. Given the complicity/negligence by the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent the violence, killing and discrimination, it is unlikely that the government will take any serious action to bring perpetrators to justice.”

“Without accountability for these serious human rights crimes, the victims will continue to be denied access to justice, and impunity of perpetrators will remain widespread and the result will continue to be a vicious cycle of violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens living in South Africa.”

“SERAP believes that substantial grounds exist to warrant the intervention of the Prosecutor in this case. Under Article 17 of the Rome Statute, the Court is a court of last resort, expected to exercise its jurisdiction only if states themselves are unwilling or unable genuinely to investigate and prosecute international crimes. Also, pursuant to the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor has power to intervene in a situation under the jurisdiction of the Court if the Security Council or states parties refer a situation or if information is provided from other sources such as the information SERAP is providing in this case.”

On the basis of the above, SERAP asks you to:
1. Urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the allegations of hate speech and the accompanying killing, violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens living in South Africa, with a view to determining whether these amount to international crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction. In this respect, we also urge you to invite representatives of the South African government to provide written or oral testimony at the seat of the Court, so that the Prosecutor is able to conclude on the basis of available information whether there is a reasonable basis for an investigation, and to submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorization of an investigation.

2. Bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for serious human rights crimes in South Africa.

3. Urge the South African government to fulfil its obligations under the Rome Statute to cooperate with the ICC; including complying with your requests to arrest and surrender suspected perpetrators of international crimes, take testimony, and provide other support to the ICC.

It would be recalled that while addressing Pongolo community members during a moral regeneration event recently, Zwelithini reportedly said, “Most government leaders do not want to speak out on this matter because they are scared of losing votes. As the king of the Zulu nation, I cannot tolerate a situation where we are being led by leaders with no views whatsoever. We are requesting those who come from outside to please go back to their countries. The fact that there were countries that played a role in the country’s struggle for liberation should not be used as an excuse to create a situation where foreigners are allowed to inconvenience locals. I know you were in their countries during the struggle for liberation. But the fact of the matter is you did not set up businesses in their countries.”

Mr Mumuni, Also added that Zwelithini, who spoke from a prepared speech, made the remarks in the presence of Police Minister Nathi Nhleko.