SERAP asks ICC to probe OBJ, Jonathan, Yar’Adua govts over ‘staggering’ power sector corruption

Darkness

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), to investigate allegations of corruption in the Nigerian electricity sector during the tenures of three former presidents.

In a statement released on Wednesday by Timothy Adewale, Deputy Director, SERAP asked Bensouda to use her “good offices and leadership position to investigate whether the allegations of widespread, systematic and large-scale corruption in the electricity sector since the return of democracy in 1999 and under the governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar‘Adua and Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria amount to crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and to prevail on the Nigerian government to surrender all suspected perpetrators for trial by the ICC”.

“Allegations of corruption in the electricity sector in Nigeria have had catastrophic effects on the lives of millions of Nigerians, akin to crimes against humanity as contemplated under the Rome Statue and within the jurisdiction of the Court,” the organisation said.

“The Rome Statute in article 7 defines ‘crime against humanity’ to include ‘inhumane acts causing great suffering or injury,’ committed in a widespread or systematic manner against a civilian population. The common denominator of crimes against humanity is that they are grave affronts to human security and dignity.

“Therefore, the staggering amounts of public funds alleged to have been stolen over the years in the electricity sector create just these consequences. Crimes against humanity are not only physical violence; allegations of corruption in the electricity sector hold a comparable gravity, which the Prosecutor should examine and thoroughly investigate.”

SERAP noted that the elements that need to be established to prove a crime against humanity under article 7(1)(k) of the Rome Statute are that, the perpetrator inflicted great suffering or serious injury by means of an inhumane act; that the perpetrator was aware of the circumstances, and that the act was committed within a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population; and that the perpetrator knew of that link.

“The consequences of allegations of corruption in the electricity sector are similar to those of the offences in article 7(1). Corrupt officials and corrupt contractors in the electricity sector know well that their conduct is criminal and injurious, and the denial of human dignity coupled with a radical breach of solemn trust, aggravate their alleged crime,” it said.

“SERAP considers these allegations of widespread and systematic corruption in the electricity sector as amounting to crimes against humanity and therefore clear violations of the provisions of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court.

“SERAP believes that these allegations have given rise to individual criminal responsibility of those suspected of perpetrating corruption in the electricity sector, as entrenched in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

“SERAP considers the apparent failure of successive governments and high-ranking government officials to prevent widespread and systematic corruption in the electricity sector as amounting to complicity under the Rome Statute. SERAP therefore believes that the widespread and systemic nature of large scale corruption in the electricity sector fits the legal requirements of a crime against humanity.”

Noting that that allegations of corruption in the energy sector have resulted in the epileptic and interrupted supply of electricity and corresponding deprivation and denial of the citizens’ access to quality healthcare, adequate food, shelter, clothing, water, sanitation, medical care, schooling, and access to information, it asked Bensouda to: “Urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the allegations of widespread and systematic corruption in the electricity sector since the return of democracy in 1999, with a view to determining whether these amount to crimes against humanity within the Court’s jurisdiction.






     

     

    “In this respect, we also urge you to invite representatives of the Nigerian government to provide written or oral testimony at the seat of the Court, so that the Prosecutor is able to conclude since 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.

    “Bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for widespread and systematic corruption in the electricity sector in Nigeria.”

    In its ‘From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector’, launched on August 9, SERAP alleged that “the much-publicised power sector reforms in Nigeria under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 is yet to yield desired and/or anticipated fruits largely due to corruption, regulatory lapses and policy inconsistencies.”

    It said that between 1999 and 2015, more than N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply for the country was squandered under the administrations of Obasanjo, Yar’Adua an Jonathan.

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