Withdraw Life Pensions For Ex-Officials, SERAP Tells Abuja Council Chairman

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Mr Abdullahi Candido, to withdraw the bill seeking payment of life pensions to former chairmen, vice-chairmen, speakers and other officials of AMAC.

According to a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the human rights group issued a 14-day ultimatum for the withdrawal of the bill.

In an open letter dated October 11 and addressed to Candido, it described the payment of such money as unconstitutional and illegal.

It said, “If the bill/edict is not withdrawn within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, we will take all appropriate legal action to challenge the illegality and to compel you to comply with our request.

SERAP disclosed that under the bill, AMAC’s past council chairmen would receive an annual pension of N500,000 while former vice chairmen are to receive N300,000 each and former speakers will be paid N200,000 each.

It added that the payment of life pensions would cost the council several millions of naira of taxpayers’ money annually.

“The payment of life pensions to the council’s chairmen, vice-chairmen and speakers would cause massive financial crisis and cripple the council’s ability to discharge its mandates of providing public goods and services to the people of Abuja.

“It would also put in jeopardy citizens’ access to those services,” the group decried.

SERAP believes payment of life pensions to AMAC’s officials undermines the concept of representative government.

It insisted that such action was a flagrant violation of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 and the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act.

The group said it also amounts to an abuse of official power, position, and resources for personal gains, and reverses the notion of government as the public’s servant and not its master.

The letter read: The payment of life pensions to AMAC’s former officials is a copycat of the unconstitutional and illegal life pension laws that have been passed by several of the 36 state governments in Nigeria.

Your council is setting a bad precedent as the first local council in Nigeria to introduce life pensions for its officials.

This would send a dangerous message to other councils and risks opening the floodgates of life pension bills/edicts in several of the 774 local governments across the country.

Rather than spending millions of taxpayers’ money on life pensions, your leadership should prioritise addressing the poor state of basic amenities and deficits in educational institutions, primary healthcare facilities, potable water, sanitation and the basic infrastructural needs of the residents within the council’s area.

The leadership of AMAC ought to be exercised for the purposes of providing public goods and services to the people of Abuja and not to grant personal benefits for past officials.

The AMAC is constitutionally and statutorily obliged to act in the public interest.

Implementing the edict would defeat the very purpose for which your council is established, that is, to provide public goods and services.

Granting life pensions to council’s chairmen, vice-chairmen and speakers would seriously undermine the accountability of the council and citizens’ trust in its leadership.

People have the right to honest and faithful performance by public officials, who are under a fiduciary duty to the public.

And no public officer should put himself/herself in a position in which his/her personal interest conflicts or is likely to conflict with the performance of the functions of his office.

That is exactly the case with the life pensions.

The public trust to AMAC leaders and officials is not without its corresponding burden: accountability to the public is the obligation of all who hold public offices, including the position of chairman of AMAC.

This notion of accountability requires you to take immediate steps to withdraw the life pensions bill/edict.

You reportedly stated that the payment of life pensions was meant to ‘honour past heroes of the council who sacrificed their talents and energy in building the council.

This is to celebrate Nigeria’s 59th independence anniversary as well as celebrate the 35th anniversary since AMAC’s creation.

It would be a disservice if the past leaders and ambassadors of the council are not honoured.

Sowore: SERAP Writes CJN, Calls For Respect For Citizens’ Rights

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has written to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, asking him to urgently develop measures to stop state and federal governments from using “the court as a tool to suppress citizens’ human rights”.

The letter dated October 4, 2019, and signed by the SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, was in reaction to the ongoing trial of the convener of the #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore.

According to SERAP, the NJC should ensure that when the authorities disobey court orders and suppress human rights, they are not allowed to come to the court and seek reliefs until they purge their contempt. Otherwise, “the justice system and the Nigerian constitution become a solemn mockery”.

Read the full statement below.

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has sent an open letter to Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council (NJC), urging him to use his offices and leadership of the NJC to “urgently develop measures and issue directives to all courts to respond to the disturbing trends by state governments and Federal Government to use the court as a tool to suppress citizens’ human rights.”

SERAP said: “Across the country, state governors and federal government are charging citizens, mostly journalists, bloggers and activists, with serious crimes such as ‘treason’, ‘treasonable felony’ or bogus crime of ‘insulting public officials’, simply for exercising their human rights.”

In the letter dated 4 October 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “These charges, refusal of bail and granting of bail on stringent conditions seem to be dangerous manipulation of judicial authority and functions by high-ranking politicians, something which the NJC and the judiciary under your watch should resist.”

SERAP also said: “In the climate of a growing clampdown on human rights of journalists and activists by several state governments and federal government, the NJC ought to push back and act as protector of individuals’ rights against abuses by the authorities.

We believe that the courts, not the state government or federal government, should have the final say in matters of citizens’ human rights.”

According to the organization, “The NJC should ensure that when the authorities disobey court orders and suppress human rights, they are not allowed to come to the court and seek reliefs until they purge their contempt.


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Otherwise, the justice system and the Nigerian constitution become a solemn mockery.”

The letter, copied to Mr. Diego GARCÍA-SAYÁN, UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, read in part: “If the practice by state governments and federal government is allowed to continue, the courts will be relegated to desuetude, and will lead to arbitrary and unrestricted power as well as further suppression of citizens’ human rights.”

“It is essential for the NJC to issue directives to all courts to promptly consider on the face of the papers filed by the authorities whether the charges brought against journalists, bloggers and activists are truly based on facts or fabricated to secure indefinite detention of citizens with judicial authority.”

“In several cases, journalists, bloggers and activists have either been denied bail, as it is the case with journalist Agba Jalingo, or granted bail with stringent conditions that implicitly violate human rights, as it is the case with journalist and activist Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare.

In all of such cases, the alleged offences are not constitutionally and internationally recognizable.”

“It is important for the judiciary to exercise all the judicial power placed in its hands by the constitution with firm determination and to guard against encroachments on that power by either the state governments or the federal government.”

“Even during many years of military dictatorship when the constitution was suspended and with it, Nigerians’ fundamental rights, the judiciary was still able to play an important role in securing protection of individuals’ rights and rejecting any forms of executive rascality by drawing on a variety of sources, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

“The return of democracy in 1999 gave rise to a legitimate public expectation that the NJC and the judiciary would be more active and proactive in enforcing the fundamental rights of Nigerians and pushing back in cases of violations and abuses of those rights, for the sake of the Nigerian constitution of 1999 (as amended) and as a step forward for increased accountability and greater integrity in government.”

“Nigerians now have a high degree of scepticism about the ability of the authorities at the state and federal levels to protect their human rights. We urge you to ensure that the NJC and the judiciary consistently demonstrate their original and sacred functions of standing between government and the governed.”

“Charging citizens for crimes of treason and treasonable felony or ‘insult’ simply for exercising their human rights shows the authorities’ lack of commitment to protecting the human rights of all Nigerians, particularly those who perform critical roles and contribute to strengthening and sustaining the Nigerian democratic system.”

“No government should have the power to use the courts as a tool of overriding the rights of individuals. The NJC has a responsibility to ensure that the courts play a central role in enforcing fundamental rights, and ensuring that the authorities do not use the courts as a tool to charge citizens with crimes, which are not constitutionally and internationally recognizable, simply for exercising their human rights.”

“Democracy requires some protection of the weak from the strong. The NJC ought to push for courts’ activism in the area of human rights, especially at this time when the authorities are regularly clamping down on citizens’ human rights. This will enhance democracy, the rule of law, and will be entirely consistent with the constitutional role of the judiciary.”

“Human rights and constitutional principles are fundamental and it is the role of an independent judiciary to give effect to those rights and principles, within the rule of law.”

“We believe that the NJC can ensure that the courts are better protectors of human rights than the executive at state and federal levels can ever be. Indeed, Nigerians including journalists, bloggers and activists require protection from both the state governments and federal government.”

“We believe that it is only an independent and courageous judiciary that can ensure full respect for the human rights of those brought before the courts by the authorities.”

“Agba Jalingo, journalist and publisher of the online CrossRiverWatch, is charged with treason over a report about an alleged diversion of N500 million by the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade.

According to our information, a Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, and presided over by Justice Simon Amobeda on October 4 2019 denied him bail. He was handcuffed to another inmate when he appeared in court.”

“Similarly, journalist and activist Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare are facing trial on seven counts of treasonable felony, fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari, simply for exercising their human rights.”

“Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu granted Sowore and Bakare bail but imposed stringent conditions that implicitly violate their constitutional rights to personal liberty, presumption of innocence, freedom of movement and freedom of expression.”

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your action by ensuring that the NJC is able to urgently respond to the threats to judicial independence and authority highlighted above. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”

Kolawole Oluwadare
SERAP Deputy Director
6/10/2019
Lagos, Nigeria

SERAP Urges Buhari To Implement Report On Financial Autonomy For Judiciary

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to use his good offices and leadership position to “urgently publish and fully implement the recommendations of the report on financial autonomy of state legislature and judiciary submitted to you in June 2019.”

SERAP said: “In the context of a growing attack on the country’s judiciary by the authorities and politicians, the full implementation of the report will contribute to improving judicial independence, and respect for constitutional principles of separation of powers and systems of checks and balances designed to prevent political interference and ensure respect for the rule of law.”

In the letter dated 27 September 2019, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Equal treatment before the law is a pillar of democratic societies. But when judicial financial autonomy and by extension, independence and sanctity is undermined, the scales of justice are tipped, and ordinary Nigerians suffer. In fact, when judicial autonomy and independence is under siege, everyone loses, as the voice of the innocent goes unheard, while the guilty continue to act with impunity.”

READ ALSO: Charges Against Sowore, Others A Mockery Of Justice – SERAP

The letter read in part: “The failure to publish the full recommendations of the report and to begin to implement them has continued to undermine the country’s judicial systems, and deny citizens’ access to justice and basic human right to a fair and impartial justice system.”

“Ensuring the financial autonomy and independence of the courts would improve the ability of our judicial systems to deliver justice effectively and efficiently. It would also allow the court to jealously guard the rights of innocent men and women, and ensure that the guilty receive a fair and impartial hearing, as well as remove the dangerous possibility of summary justice.”

“We urge you to ensure full respect for the rule of law and due process in words and actions.”

“A financially autonomous judiciary is crucial for the effectiveness and success of your anti-corruption agenda, and important for the realization of citizens’ human rights. Unless the report is fully implemented, trust in the court’s impartiality and independence will continue to be eroded, and the core judicial functions, access to justice, and the broader accountability function of the judiciary, will continue to be undermined.”

“A weak judiciary would mean that impunity for corrupt officials will remain, as the ability of your government and anti-corruption agencies to prosecute grand corruption, as well as public trust and confidence in institutions of government and public officials, will continue to be undermined.”

“SERAP is extremely concerned about the growing attack on the independence of the judiciary and the sanctity of our justice system, particularly the repeated failures by your government, state governments and politicians to respect and comply with court decisions and orders.”

“SERAP notes that you received in June 2019 the Report of the Abubakar Malami-led Presidential Implementation Committee on Financial Autonomy of State Legislature and Judiciary. The committee, inaugurated by you on March 22, 2019 was tasked to fashion out strategies and modalities for implementation of the financial autonomy of the state legislature and judiciary, in compliance with Section 121 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

“When you received the report, you stated that, ‘I went through a terrible time getting here for the three times I contested elections. That is why I want to stabilise the system so that others will not pass through the same experience.’”

“This worrying situation threatens to undermine the judiciary’s fragile independence, and the sacred constitutional principles of separation of powers and systems of checks and balances.”

“Continuing refusal to respect and obey court decisions and orders if not urgently stopped will lead to increased corruption and impunity. Disobedience of court orders is an implicit interference in the judicial system, and shows a flagrant disregard for Nigeria’s Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international obligations. Persistent disobedience of court orders and decisions threatens any gains in the fight against corruption that your government may have recorded.”

“SERAP is concerned about the growing list of court orders and decisions that have been flagrantly disobeyed by your government, the most recent being the order by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, Federal High Court, Abuja granting bail to the Publisher of SaharaReporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, and the reported attempts by your government to drag Justice Taiwo before National Judicial Council (NJC) on account of his decision to grant bail to Mr Sowore.”

“Other high-profile judgments your government is refusing to obey include at least three judgments obtained by SERAP. The first is the judgment by Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari ordering the government to tell Nigerians about the stolen asset it allegedly recovered, with details of the amounts recovered. The second judgment, by Justice Mohammed Idris, ordered the government to publish details on the spending of stolen funds recovered by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999.”

“The third judgment, Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor, a Professor of Law, ordered the government to publish details of payments to all defaulting and allegedly corrupt electricity contractors and companies by the governments of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and your government.”

“Another court order that is yet to be complied with is the order for the release of Islamic Movement of Nigeria leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, from unlawful detention, obtained by human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana.”

Charges Against Sowore, Others A Mockery Of Justice – SERAP

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has described the charges of treasonable felony and other counts filed against the detained Convener of #RevolutionNow Protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore, as a mockery of justice.

The group said this in a letter signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare and addressed to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abukabar Malami (SAN).

It described the government’s handling of the case as persecution and not prosecution, as well as a breach of the rule of law, freedom of expression and media freedom.

SERAP, therefore, asked the Justice Minister to without delay, discontinue the prosecution of Sowore.

Read Also: ‘Unprecedented Level Of Paranoia,’ Soyinka Slams FG Over Charges Against Sowore

See full statement below.

‘Charges against Sowore a mockery of justice, end the case now’, SERAP tells Malami

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to Mr Abukabar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, urging him to use his position “to without delay enter a nolle prosequi and discontinue the prosecution of the Convener of ‘RevolutionNow’ protest and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and Olawale Bakare, also known as Mandate for apparently politically motivated charges of treason, fraud and ‘insulting President Muhammadu Buhari’.”

SERAP said: “We urge you to use your role as a trustee of the public interest under section 174 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) to end several of similar trumped-up cases going on in several states.”

In the letter dated 21 September 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the group said: “Sowore’s case and several similar cases instigated/brought by state governors make a hideous mockery of Nigeria’s criminal justice systems, rule of law, freedom of expression and media freedom. These cases are persecution and not prosecution. As guardian of the public interest, you have a role to end this travesty now, and to maintain the sanctity and integrity of Nigeria’s justice system.”

SERAP also said: “These cases set a dangerous precedent for the misuse and subversion of the justice system, which may lead to the politicization of judiciary. This will be bad for everyone—ordinary citizens, journalists and even the politicians in power, as they may themselves become targets of these repressive and abusive tactics when they are out of power/in opposition.”

The letter read in part: “While the Nigerian government has the responsibility to prevent and prosecute criminal offences, it ought to do so lawfully, and in full compliance with human rights and the rule of law. Exercising your constitutional independence and discretion to withdraw these kinds of charges would meet the text of reasonableness, demands of justice, and as noted, serve the public interest.”

“Laws against terrorism and money laundering should be properly used, and not to undermine critical voices, activists, and the media. Invoking the charges of treasonable felony to unjustifiably or arbitrarily restrict the right to freedom of opinion and expression would minimise the seriousness with which our laws traditionally treat such offences, and undermine the essence of the criminal justice system and the rule of law.”

“If not urgently addressed, the misuse of the criminal justice system and politicization of Nigeria’s judiciary would jeopardise the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law and lower the public estimation of the ability of our justice system to serve as the last hope of justice for desperate victims. Unless these bogus charges are immediately withdrawn, there is a danger that the public interest represented by the courts and that represented by your role, might part company.”

“Attacks on journalism are fundamentally at odds with protection of freedom of expression and access to information, which in turn is key to promoting transparency and accountability, and the achievement of the government’s anti-corruption agenda.”

“Withdrawing this case would send a strong message to many state governors that your office will not accept their persistent abuse of the criminal justice systems to jail journalists, bloggers and activists, just as it is, for example, the case in Cross River State, where journalists Agba Jalingo and Ekanem Ekpo have been charged with treason and now being detained for 90 days simply for reporting about an alleged diversion of N500 million by the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade.”

“As Nigeria’s Chief Law Officer, it is vital to our democracy, judicial independence and rule of law for you to stop the Federal Government and state governors from misrepresenting the country’s constitutional jurisprudence and international obligations in the matters of freedom of expression and media freedom.”

“SERAP notes that last Friday the Federal Government filed a seven-count charge of cybercrimes of insulting Mr Buhari, money laundering and treasonable felony against Sowore and Bakare. The charges followed their detention by security operatives on 2nd August, 2019. Order was his detention was not made until the 8th of August.

“SERAP also notes that at a forum we organized in June 2019 to discuss the legality of the Cybercrimes Act, your representative and the Head of Cybercrimes Prosecution Unit in the Ministry of Justice Mr. Terlumun George Tyendezwa said the Justice Ministry was committed to pursuing the amendment of the Act, to remove its repressive provisions like insulting public officials, which is now being used in this case, and frequently to undermine freedom of expression, media freedom and provide special protection for public figures including president and state governors.”

“Nigerian constitution and international human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party protect even shocking and offensive speech.”

“Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee everyone’s right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers and through any media, including in the form of art.”

“The Human Rights Committee, in fact, underlines in General Comment 34 that laws should not provide for more severe penalties solely on the basis of the identity of the person and that the value placed by the Covenant upon uninhibited expression is particularly high in cases involving public or political figures. Thus, the mere fact that forms of expression are considered to be insulting to these figures is not sufficient to justify the imposition of penalties.”

“These restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom cannot meet the basic tests of legality, reasonableness and proportionality. It is normal for expression to provoke controversy, reaction and discourse, even anger but not punishment, fear and silence.”

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in acting to withdraw the charges against Sowore and Bakare, and several other similar charges instigated or brought by state governors across the county. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”

Kolawole Oluwadare
SERAP Deputy Director
22/09/2019
Lagos, Nigeria

Advise Buhari To Obey Court Order On Electricity Contracts, SERAP Tells Malami

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abukabar Malami, to advise President Muhammadu Buhari to enforce the judgment by Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor, ordering the immediate release of details of payments to all defaulting and corrupt electricity contractors and companies since 1999.

Deputy Director of the agency, Kolawole Oluwadare, in a letter said that the enforcement of the judgment will go a long way in protecting the integrity of the legal system.

He further stated that enforcing the judgement would prove the government’s commitment to the rule of law, and contribute to addressing the culture and legacy of corruption in the power sector.

See full statement below.

Advise Buhari to obey judgment on release of payment details on electricity contracts, SERAP tells Malami

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Mr Abukabar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to use his “special role as the Chief Law Officer of Nigeria to advise and persuade President Muhammadu Buhari to fully and effectively enforce the judgment by Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor ordering the immediate release of details of payments to all defaulting and allegedly corrupt electricity contractors and companies since 1999.”

Justice Obiozor, a Professor of Law, sitting at the Federal High Court, Lagos, had in July delivered a judgment in a Freedom of Information suit number FHC/L/CS/105/19, brought by SERAP, ordering the Federal Government to disclose and publish the names of companies and the whereabouts of the contractors paid by successive governments to carry out electricity projects but disappeared with the money without executing any projects.”

In the open letter dated 13 September 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The enforcement of this judgment will be a special moment for the government’s anti-corruption agenda and the sovereignty of rule of law, as it would go a long way in protecting the integrity of our legal system.

“We urge you to make best efforts to advise and persuade President Buhari and Mr Sale Mamman, Minister of Power to begin to take steps that will ensure the full enforcement of this ground-breaking judgment.”

SERAP said: “Advising and persuading Mr Buhari and Mr Mamman to enforce the judgment against corrupt contractors and companies would show your commitment to the rule of law, and contribute to addressing the culture and legacy of corruption in the power sector.

It will show that you are not just Mr Buhari’s lawyer but also a defender of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the rule of law and public interest within the government, something which Justice Obiozor’s judgment seeks to serve.”

The letter read in part: “It is emphatically the province and constitutional duty of the Attorney General to advise on the enforcement of judicial decisions. It is important to do so here if power sector contractors and companies are not to continue to evade justice for their alleged corruption.”

“Taking action as recommended would be in keeping with Nigerians’ expectations, and entirely consistent with Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to ‘kill’ corruption–whether by public officials or private contractors—and help to build citizens’ trust and confidence in the ability of this government to take head-on the systemic corruption in the power sector.”

“Our democracy needs courts so that public officials and private actors including contractors can be held accountable for any infraction of Nigerian anti-corruption laws and international commitments. Constitutionalism and the rule of law are not in conflict with democracy; rather, they are essential to it.”

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in advising and persuading Mr Buhari and Mr Mamman to enforce and implement Justice Obiozor’s judgment. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”

“A certified true copy of the judgment is enclosed with this letter for your attention and urgent action.”

It would be called that SERAP had in February filed the FoI suit against the Federal Government and former Minister of Power Mr Babatunde Fashola. The former minister then responded, saying that: “the Ministry has searched for the requested information on details of alleged contractors and companies but we could not find it from our records.”

SERAP said: “During the 20 years of Nigeria’s democracy successive governments have failed to increase power generation and provide Nigerians with regular and uninterrupted electricity supply, with many electricity contracts shrouded in secrecy, and trillions of Naira going down the drain.”

“Ordinary Nigerians have continued to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector, as the country has remained in darkness despite huge investment in the power sector by successive governments.”

In summary, Justice Obiozor in his judgment granted the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION is hereby made that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to provide SERAP with documents and information containing the specific names and details of contractors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector by successive governments since 1999, details, of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contractors and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country, and failure to widely publish it on a dedicated website, any of such information, amounts to a breach of the obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2011

A DECLARATION is hereby made that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to provide SERAP with specific documents and information containing the specific names and details of contractors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects from successive governments since 1999 but failed to execute any of such projects, and failure to widely publish it on a dedicated website, any of such information, amounts to a breach of the Respondent’s responsibility/obligation under the Freedom of Information Act 2011

AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS is made directing and compelling the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to urgently compile and make available to SERAP documents and information containing the specific names and details of contactors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 to date, details of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contracts and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country and to publish widely including on a dedicated website, any of such information

AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS is made directing and compelling the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to urgently compile and make available to SERAP documents and information containing the specific names and details of contactors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects from successive governments since 1999 but failed to execute any projects.

A DECLARATION is hereby made that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to urgently disclose if there is an ongoing investigation or prosecution of allegedly corrupt contractors and companies in the electricity sector, amounts to a breach of the Respondent’s responsibility/obligation under the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS is made directing and compelling the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to urgently disclose if there is an ongoing investigation or prosecution of allegedly corrupt contractors and companies in the electricity sector.

Kolawole Oluwadare
SERAP Deputy Director
15/09/2019
Lagos, Nigeria

Xenophobia: SERAP Asks African Commission To Sue South Africa, Seeks $10bn For Victims

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to Mrs Soyata Maiga, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the commission’s members requesting them: “to urgently submit a case on the escalating xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other African citizens in South Africa to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and to seek an effective remedy and reparation for Nigerian victims.”

SERAP said: “these attacks constitute serious violations of the human rights of Nigerians and other African citizens in South Africa.”

The organization also urged the commission to “seek in the case to the African Court, punitive damages and adequate compensation of $10 billion (USD) on behalf of hundreds of Nigerian victims and their families. This amount will sufficiently take into account individual harm suffered by victims.”

In the open letter dated 6 September 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “This is a key moment for the commission to push to protect the human rights of the victims. The commission ought to make it clear to the South African authorities that the victims of the heinous crimes have a right to an effective remedy and reparation, which includes restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.”

The organization also said: “For the sake of the victims, the commission should move swiftly on the matter to prevent further harm to Nigerians and other foreign nationals in the country. Unlike for individuals and NGOs, the African Court Protocol does not require Nigeria to have made the declaration under Article 34(6) for the commission to submit a case on behalf of the Nigerian victims before the Court.”

READ ALSO: FG Debunks Reports Of Explosion At SA High Commission In Abuja

The open letter read in part: “If the victims see that a process for ensuring adequate compensation for the crimes committed against them in South Africa is underway, it will also discourage revenge violence and killings and help break the cycle of violence that is now spiralling beyond control in the country.”

“If the commission does not pursue a case for compensation for victims, the Nigerian government may compel it to do so before the court. The call for an effective remedy and reparation for the victims of xenophobic attacks and violence is overwhelming, and comes from direct victims and their families, from the Nigerian government and the leadership of Nigeria’s National Assembly.”

“Pursuing the case before the African Court and seeking adequate compensation in the sum of $10 billion (USD) would help to ensure justice to the victims and deter South African authorities and high-ranking public officials who incite hatred, violence and discrimination.”

“Pushing for payment of $10 billion (USD) compensation for Nigerian victims of xenophobic attacks and violence can demonstrate that the days of impunity for these crimes are gone.”

“This would also ensure the effective implementation of the commission’s Resolution ACHPR/Res.131 (XXXXIII) and Resolution ACHPR/Res.304 (LVI) as well as its press statements of 2017 and 4 April 2019, which expressed grave concern over xenophobic attacks that took place in 2008, 2015, 2017 and 2019 respectively.”

“Every African citizen in South Africa is guaranteed the rights to life and human dignity no matter their nationality or migration status. The commission should call on high-ranking political leaders in South Africa to immediately end public statements, which amount to advocacy of hatred or incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

“The commission should consider the xenophobic attacks as amounting to serious and widespread violations of human rights of Nigerians in South Africa. The lack of accountability and adequate compensation for the xenophobic attacks and violence committed against Nigerians in South Africa for many years has fostered a sense that there are no consequences for violence.”

“SERAP notes that the African Commission has condemned the xenophobic attacks and violence, noting that ‘the attacks not only constitute possible violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights but are also contrary to the principles and ideals of African solidarity cherished in the African Charter.’”

“It is now time for the commission to move beyond mere resolutions and statements. The commission should pursue legal action to seek an effective remedy and reparation for victims, as the South African authorities have failed and/or refused to implement the commission’s repeated resolutions and statements.”

“SERAP is seriously that the African Commission, which is the main body mandated with promoting human and peoples’ rights on the continent—has so far failed to hold South African authorities to account for these crimes and to deter repeated violations and attacks against Nigerians.”

“South African authorities cannot expect Nigerian victims to resume their lives as though nothing happened. Time is of the essence as the failure and/or refusal by the authorities to respect the right of Nigerian victims to an effective remedy and reparation for the xenophobic attacks have continued to fuel repeated violence with devastating consequences and an entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators.”

“Prior to the outbreak of the current xenophobic violence and attacks against Nigerians, the government of South Africa was failing to protect the human rights of foreign nationals in the country. Particular human rights concerns include restriction of the right to freedom of movement, violation of the right to life, equality, dignity and the security of their person and property as enshrined under Articles 3, 4, 5, 12 and 14 of the African Charter.”

“Significant efforts are needed to foster a culture of respect for the human rights of foreign nationals in the country. The commission should play a decisive role by beginning to call for broad human rights reforms that will ensure full protection and safety of Nigerians and other African citizens in South Africa.”

“The African Court has held that as long as the rights allegedly violated are protected by the African Charter or any other human rights instruments ratified by the State concerned, in this case South Africa, the Court will have jurisdiction over the matter if it is brought by the African Commission, pursuant to Articles, 2, 3(1) and 5(1) (a) of the Court’s protocol.”

“South African authorities have repeatedly failed and/or refused to take any meaningful action to end xenophobic violence and attacks against Nigerians, and address the root causes of these attacks. Also, the justice system has not satisfactorily dealt with the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators let alone ensure an effective remedy and reparation for victims.”

“The commission should also draw the attention of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union to the xenophobic attacks and violence since they reveal the existence of a series of serious or massive violations of human and peoples’ rights, as provided under Article 58 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

“It is important to invoke article 58 so that the AU can also consider taking punitive action against the South African authorities on their failure to implement their obligations under the Africa Charter and the AU Constitutive Act.”

“This request is entirely consistent with the African Commission’s rules of procedure and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Taking this step will show that African Commission and African Court can cooperate in taking action against massive human rights violation in South Africa.”

“Over 200 Nigerians have been reportedly killed since 2008, several more have been displaced from their homes while more than 300 Nigerians have registered for evacuation from South Africa. Shops and businesses by Nigerians have been looted or destroyed, and high-ranking political leaders have deliberately fuelled the attacks and violence.”

“The impact of the violence and attacks on Nigerian women and children has been devastating, as children have been unable to attend school due to fear of attacks. Many Nigerians are now relocating their wives and children to Nigeria while they stay back to work in South Africa.”

“In February 2017, parents reported that xenophobic prejudice was being extended to local schools. For example, the Eastleigh Primary School in Edenvale, Gauteng threatened to refuse the children of foreign nationals access to education. In May 2008, more than 60 people were killed, more than 600 injured and over 20,000 people were displaced in the Gauteng and Western Cape Provinces.”

The open letter was copied to the Secretary, African Commission; Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, Rapporteur for South Africa; Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women; Commissioner Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, and Commissioner Maya Sahli Fadel, Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

SERAP, Others Sue Senate Over Alleged Plan To Spend N5.5bn On Cars

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The socio-economic rights and accountability project SERAP, Budgit, Enough is Enough, and 6,721 concerned Nigerians have filed a lawsuit praying the Federal High court to “restrain, prevent and stop the National Assembly service commission from paying or releasing the sum of N5.550 billion budgeted for the purchase of luxury cars for principal officers of the ninth Senate.

The commission is also asking the court to restrain and stop the Senate from collecting the money until the downward review of the amount is carried out by the Senate.

The suit, filed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare supported by an affidavit of urgency, reads in part quote “a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his official duties.

“Members of the National Assembly as public officials form a very tiny percentage of about 200 million Nigerians. It is public knowledge and judicially noticed that members of the Senate are still eligible to collect huge sums of money as monthly allowances and severance pay on the conclusion of their respective terms at the National Assembly.”

“It is thus rational that this matter is presently generating a lot of public concern and many Nigerians are now calling for a review of the sum proposed and budgeted for vehicles for members. In the face of glaring facts about Nigeria’s dire economic position vis-a-vis the scant allocations to critical sectors of the nation, we can only pray the Court to do substantive justice by granting our reliefs sought.”

“There is a real urgent need to assign, hear and determine this matter expeditiously. The well-being and prosperity of Nigeria require commitment and sacrifice by all and sundry. However, the plan to spend N5.550 Billion [amounting to 6.4% of Nasarawa State budget] is anything but a commitment to pursue the interest, well-being and prosperity of Nigeria and its citizens.”

“We urge the court to grant the plaintiffs’ reliefs by stopping the spending of N5.550 billion on luxury cars by the Senate and compelling the Senate to undertake a downward review of the sum proposed and budgeted, consistent with the provisions of section 57[4] of the Public Procurement Act 2007. Unless the reliefs sought are granted, the Senate will continue to benefit from the breach of the law, and at the expense of millions of Nigerians living in poverty.”

The plaintiffs want the court to determine: “Whether the plan to spend N5.550 billion to buy vehicles for principal members of the ninth Senate is not in breach of Section 57[4] of the Public Procurement Act 2007, Paragraph 1 of Code of Conduct for Public Officers [Fifth Schedule Part 1] of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 [as amended] and Oath of office [Seventh Schedule] of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999”

The plaintiffs, therefore, are seeking the following reliefs from the court:

1. A DECLARATION that the sum of N5.550 billion proposed and budgeted for purchase of vehicles for principal members of Senate [National Assembly] is in breach of Section 57[4] of the Public Procurement Act 2007, Paragraph 1, Code of Conduct for Public Officers [Fifth Schedule Part 1] of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and Oath of Office [Seventh Schedule] of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999

2. AN ORDER compelling the ninth Senate to undertake a downward review of the amount proposed and budgeted for the purchase of vehicles for principal members of the 1st Defendant in compliance with Section 57[4] of the Public Procurement Act 2007

3. AN ORDER restraining, preventing and stopping the National Assembly Service Commission from paying out or releasing the sum of N5.550 billion proposed, earmarked and budgeted for the purchase of vehicles for principal members of Senate [National Assembly] until the downward review of the amount proposed by the ninth Senate

4. AN ORDER restraining, preventing and stopping all members of the Senate from collecting or demanding the sum of N5.550 billion proposed and budgeted for the purchase of vehicles for principal members of Senate until the downward review of the amount proposed for purchase of the vehicles

5. ANY ORDER(S) that the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance of this suit.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

SERAP Asks AGF To Adopt Public Registers For Corrupt Officials

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abukabar Malami (SAN), to adopt public registers for corrupt state governors and other high-ranking public officials.

This was disclosed in a statement signed on Sunday by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

The agency urged the AGF to use his good offices and leadership to “move swiftly to develop and adopt public registers for corrupt state governors and other high-ranking public officials charged with and convicted of grand corruption since the return of democracy in 1999”.

It also urged Mr Malami to ensure that the public registers contain accurate data and are fully accessible and open to public scrutiny.

Read the full statement below.

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to Mr Abukabar Malami, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, urging him to use his good offices and leadership to: “move swiftly to develop and adopt public registers for corrupt state governors and other high-ranking public officials charged with and convicted of grand corruption since the return of democracy in 1999.

SERAP said: “We urge you to ensure that the public registers contain accurate data and are fully accessible and open to public scrutiny. Aspects such as the scope of the registers, who to include in the registers, and eligibility for removal from the registers, can be discussed in a consultative session with the civil society and other stakeholders.”

In the letter dated 23 August 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The proposed registers are far from severe, and would be a proportionate response to the grave crime of grand corruption and impunity of perpetrators and have a deterrent effect. There can be no reasonable expectation of privacy in matters already exposed to public viewing such as prior arrest, charges and conviction records.”

The organization said: “Public registers for high-ranking officials facing corruption charges and those convicted of corruption would be a pivotal moment in the fight against corruption by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the damage caused by graft to citizens’ human rights and Nigeria’s democratic process.”

SERAP also said: “The proposed registers for corrupt officials would serve a public interest purpose similar in some respects to the recently disclosed names and details by the United States Department of Justice of 80 defendants, most of whom are Nigerians, that have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft and other charges.”

The letter read in part: “SERAP is concerned that corruption is so pervasive across many states and at several levels of governance and has remained a constant feature of Nigeria’s political scene since 1999, turning public service for many into a kind of criminal enterprise. Grand corruption has continued to fuel political violence, deny millions of Nigerians access to clean water, and even the most basic health and education services, and reinforcing police abuses and other widespread patterns of human rights violations.”

“The lack of public registers containing detailed information about high-ranking public officials charged with and convicted of corruption since 1999 has allowed many politicians—often with impunity–to use apparently illicitly acquired wealth to fund political parties, build corrupt patronage networks, thereby preventing fair access to economic and political power, serving to further the wealth and power of ruling elites, and exacerbating inequality.”

“Registers would help protect the public from corrupt officials and their collaborators and improve the ideal of representative government, as it would assist the citizens to properly exercise their right to participate in their own government.”

“Public registers would improve transparency by making it easier for the public to track the government’s fight against corruption and make the government as open as possible in its anti-corruption efforts. SERAP urges you to push for legislation that will require public officials charged with and convicted of grand corruption at the federal, state and local government levels to put their names in the public registers.”

“Everyone has the right of access to any information held by the state or by any other person, which is reasonably required for the exercise or protection of any rights, including those of citizens’ right to human dignity and freedom from corruption.”

“Registers for corrupt officials would also address the paucity of information about politicians and others complicit in the mismanagement of the country’s natural wealth and resources, with devastating consequences for citizens’ enjoyment of their human rights.”

“Many citizens lack knowledge and awareness of those charged with and convicted of grand corruption, and those that are complicit in the mismanagement of the country’s wealth and resources.”

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in developing and adopting public registers for corrupt officials and proposing legislation on the matter, as appropriate. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”

Kolawole Oluwadare
SERAP Deputy Director
25/08/2019

$16bn Power Projects: SERAP Backs EFCC’s Decision To Probe Past Govts’ Spending

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has welcomed “the reported probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of the past governments, starting with the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s $16 billion power project.

The commission said it is an opportunity for the anti-graft agency to show that former heads of state and other high-ranking public officials are not immune from investigation and prosecution for allegations of grand corruption in Nigeria.

In a statement by the Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, says,“This probe is something, which 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, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.”

READ ALSO: Obasanjo Replies Buhari, Denies Spending $16bn On Power

“The EFCC has begun the probe of the $16 billion power project of the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. While some put the exact cost of the project at $16 billion others say it is $13.8 billion. 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 probe is timely, especially coming at a time of citizens’ frustrations at persistent allegations of corruption and the impacts on their human rights. Investigating allegations of grand corruption and prosecuting former heads of state and other high-ranking officials where such allegations show relevant and sufficient admissible evidence would address the grave travesty that has for many years occurred in the power sector.

The organization also said: “The EFCC should urgently invite anyone suspected to be involved for questioning. The agency should also expand the probe to cover the alleged squandering of a total of N11 trillion in the power sector between 1999 and 2015, and the unresolved case of the reported missing $12.4 billion oil windfall, allegedly spent between 1988 and 1993 by the government of former military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida.”

The statement read in part: “The EFCC has the full support of Nigerians in its efforts to hold high-ranking public officials to account for grand corruption, and 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 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, and 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 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. This would help to further public perception of fairness and thoroughness.”

“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.”

“In November 2016, SERAP petitioned the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, urging him to probe the alleged spending of the $16 billion. In April 2017, SERAP sent President Muhammadu Buhari an open letter, advising him to take allegations of corruption in the power sector to the international criminal courts to ensure that justice is served.”

“SERAP has also called on Mr Buhari to refer the alleged $16 billion spending on electricity between 1999 and 2007 to the EFCC. Mr Buhari subsequently raised questions over the issues, saying that ‘one of the former Heads of State was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion American dollars, not naira, on power. Where is the power? Where is the power?’.

“In August 2017, SERAP published a report, ‘From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector’, which revealed how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply was allegedly squandered under the governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.”

The report reads: “The Obasanjo’s administration spent $10 billion on NIPP with no results in terms of increase in power generation. $13.278,937,409.94 was expended on the power sector in eight years while unfunded commitments amounted to $12 billion.”

“The Federal Government then budgeted a whopping N16 billion for the various reforms under Liyel Imoke (2003 to 2007) which went down the drains as it failed to generate the needed amount of electricity or meet the set goals. Imoke was alleged to have personally collected the sum of $7.8 million for the execution of the contract for the construction of the Jos-Yola Transmission Line, which was never executed. There were documented/reported allegations of corruption against Imoke that fizzled-out shortly thereafter.”

‘RevolutionNow’: SERAP Seeks UN Human Rights Council Special Session Over Attacks On Journalists

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to all member and observer states of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, urging them to “urgently convene a special session on Nigeria over arbitrary arrests and repression by officers of the Nigeria Police Force and other security forces of ‘RevolutionNow’ protesters, organizers, activists, and journalists who covered the protests on Monday across the country.”

SERAP also raised: “concern over suppression of freedom of expression, attacks on journalists, bloggers, and human rights defenders by several state governments, as well as the intimidation and harassment of Amnesty International in Nigeria, including by a group of apparently paid protesters that continues to besiege the organization’s office in Abuja, preventing it from carrying out its activities, and giving the organization ultimatum to leave Nigeria.”

In the letter dated 8 August 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “There are serious violations of the rights of Nigerians to liberty, personal security, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, and media freedom and a Special Session is urgently needed to help stem the attack on human rights and contribute to UN efforts to prevent further abuses including arbitrary detention and excessive use of force.”

READ ALSO: Sowore To Be Detained In DSS Custody For Next 45 Days

The organization said: “The human rights situation in the country has drastically deteriorated, with the authorities at the Federal and State levels violating human rights and refusing to obey court judgments. The Human Rights Council should heed the rising chorus of concerns by Nigerians, journalists, human rights defenders, activists, and lawyers, and urgently convene a Special Session on the growing human rights crisis in the country.”

The organization also said: “Consistent with its mandate to prevent human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies, the Human Rights Council should address the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in several states of Nigeria as a matter of priority.”

If one third of the Member States requests so, the Human Rights Council can decide at any time to hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies. The Council is made of 47 Member States—13 from Africa; 13 from Asia; 8 from Latin America and Caribbean; 7 from Western European and other States and 6 from Eastern Europe.

The letter read in part: “We urge your delegation to actively support the holding of a Special Session of the Human Rights Council without delay and the adoption of a resolution that ensures meaningful attention to the situation with a view to stemming the abuses and ending impunity.”

“The Human Rights Council cannot ignore persistent attacks on human rights and disregard for the rule of law in Nigeria. If the Human Rights Council does not assume its responsibility and give voice to the victims, it would exacerbate the impunity of perpetrators and continue to fuel further abuses.”

“At the Special Session, the Council should adopt a resolution that urges the Nigerian authorities at the Federal and State levels to respect the peoples’ rights to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and association as guaranteed in UN human rights treaties ratified by Nigeria and to refrain from using excessive force to disperse protesters and against journalists.”

“The Council should urge the Nigerian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those arbitrarily detained in connection with the ‘RevolutionNow’ protests across Nigeria simply for exercising their human rights to protest and freedom of expression.”

“The Council should urge the Nigerian authorities at Federal and State levels to stop harassing and intimidating Nigerian citizens including peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights defenders, and others who seek to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.”

“The Council should express its deep concern about the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Nigeria and the impact of the crisis on the Nigerian people, as well as about the targeted attacks on peaceful protesters, human rights defenders, journalists, and Amnesty International in Nigeria.”

“The Council should condemn in the strongest possible terms the attacks on ‘RevolutionNow’ protesters, journalists, and bloggers by the Nigerian authorities at both Federal and State levels, as well as the ongoing impunity enjoyed by perpetrators.”

“The Council should demand that the Nigerian authorities at both the Federal and State levels end these violations and abuses as a matter of critical and urgent priority, including by immediately halting repression of real or suspected opponents and critics, and by conducting thorough, impartial and independent investigations with a view to bringing those responsible to justice and providing victims with redress.”

“The Council should call on the Nigerian authorities at both the Federal and State levels to fully cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteurs, including by allowing them free access to the country to investigate all allegations of human rights violations against protesters, journalists, bloggers and other Nigerians.”

“The Council should request the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in Nigeria, and to regularly brief the Human Rights Council on developments.”

“The authorities have arbitrarily arrested Omoyele Sowore, the organiser of the ‘RevolutionNow’ protests and Publisher of the online newspaper Sahara Reporters. He is still currently detained by the Department of State Services. Several protesters and journalists continue to be targeted, including a former Politics Editor with Daily Trust, Ibrahim Dan-Halilu, who has been reportedly re-arrested.”

‘RevolutionNow’: SERAP Calls For Release Of Arrested Journalist, Protesters

 

The Socio-Economic Right And Accountability Project (SERAP) has called for the release of the ‘RevolutionNow’ protesters and a journalist.

It also threatened to take international legal action if the arrested persons continue to remain in custody.

This followed a protest by a group of individuals who gathered at the National Stadium in Surulere for the march.

READ ALSO: Police Disperse ‘RevolutionNow’ Protesters, Arrest Journalist, Others In Lagos

The crowd was, however, dispersed by police personnel who arrested some protesters and a journalist with online news platform, Sahara Reporters.

The reporter, who was identified by his colleagues, was said to have failed to show any form of identification before he was arrested.

In its reaction, SERAP condemned the action of the security operatives in a series of tweets on Monday.

It insisted that Nigerians deserve to exercise their constitutional and internationally recognised human right to peaceful protest without fear of being targeted.

“Sections 39 (1) and 40 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) is clear: Stopping people from peacefully exercising their freedom of expression and right to protest is unacceptable and illegal.

“Whoever approved this needs a remedial course in constitutional law,” the human rights organisation said.

SERAP added, “We’re concerned about the reported arbitrary arrest by police of some ‘RevolutionNow’ protesters and a journalist.

“The Nigerian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release all peaceful protesters. We’ll pursue international legal action if they’re not released.”

According to the organisation, the situation in Nigeria should not be different from that of Hong Kong and Puerto Rico.

Read the tweets below:

Alleged Diversion: SERAP Wants Probe Of Two Senators Over Constituency Projects

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has written to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences, (ICPC), and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) to urgently invite senators Godswill Akpabio and Isa Misau for interrogation over alleged diversion of constituency projects.

This was stated by the Deputy Director of SERAP Kolawole Oluwadare, in a petition to the chairmen of the anti-graft agencies, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye and Mr Ibrahim Magu.

“If the ICPC and EFCC consider the recovered hospital equipment and six tractors allegedly diverted for the personal use of the senators as relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, we urge you to promptly begin prosecution of the former senators.”

The ICPC had last week stated that it recovered from the premises and farmland allegedly belonging to the senators’ equipment meant for constituency projects in some local government areas of Akwa Ibom and Bauchi states.

In a petition dated 2 August 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Inviting those suspected to be involved for interrogation and further questioning, and for them to promptly face prosecution as appropriate, would show that no one is above the law.

“It would be entirely consistent with the exercise of your mandates to combat corruption, and with both the spirit and the letter of the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

SERAP expressed concern that these cases illustrate the growing allegations of massive corruption in constituency projects and the importance of not only monitoring the projects but thoroughly and effectively investigating reported cases of corruption and promptly bringing suspected perpetrators to justice.

“When members of the National Assembly divert constituency projects for personal use, the essence of such projects is defeated, and the integrity of the mechanism compromised.”

The petition, copied to Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, read in part: “Corruption in the provision of public services such as healthcare affects and distorts the delivery of services and the right to the highest attainable standard of health. As the recoveries by the ICPC have shown, cases of corruption in constituency projects cause under-provision, divert public resources, or simply limit access to public services or make them unavailable.”

“SERAP notes Section 15(5) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to the effect that ‘The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.’ Similarly, the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party requires the authorities to ensure effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and penalties for corruption.”

“The allegations of diversion of constituency projects by public officers have weakened public confidence in the effectiveness of the mechanism as currently implemented to deliver essential public services to those most in need. Unresolved allegations of corruption in constituency projects would significantly contribute to impunity for grand corruption in Nigeria and pose a serious threat to probity in public life, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

“inviting those suspected to be involved for interrogation and further questioning, and prosecuting them if the recoveries by the ICPC indicate relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, would show your agencies’ willingness to exert your authorities and act as a deterrent against breaches of Nigeria’s anti-corruption legislation and international standards.”

“Allegations of corruption in constituency projects meant to be implemented for the common good and not the personal gains of lawmakers would ultimately undermine the principles of representative and accountable government that acts in the public interest, and equality and fairness.”

“Corruption in the health sector or provision of support to farmers unfairly punishes the poor, and depresses living standards and opportunities for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged population.”

SERAP has urged both the ICPC and EFCC to jointly act to continue to ensure greater level of transparency and accountability in the implementation of constituency projects and to name and shame those suspected to be involved, if Nigeria is not to continue to witness damaging allegations of diversion and other forms of corruption in the implementation of constituency projects.

The ICPC reported that it recovered hospital equipment meant for constituency project on the premises of Mma Obot Foundation, which is allegedly owned by Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom.

“Among the recoveries are dialysis machine, ECG monitor, oxygen regulator, anaesthetic machines, generators and other hospital equipment meant for a cottage hospital in Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.”

“The ICPC also recovered six tractors from a farm belonging to Isa Hamman Misau, a former senator who represented Bauchi central. The tractors were meant for the use of farmers in six local government areas of Bauchi Central Senatorial District. The items were recovered during the ICPC’s ongoing tracking of constituency projects around the country.”

“The tractors formed part of the N430m contract for the supply of pumping machines and other agricultural machinery to farmers in the senatorial district, which was awarded in 2015 by the Federal Government as part of the senators’ constituency projects across the nation. The sum of N76.6m was said to be paid for the tractors in December 2015, which were supplied in March 2016.”