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SERAP sues Buhari over failure to name looters of N6 trillion NDDC funds

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THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to publish names of suspected looters of N6 trillion Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) funds.

SERAP disclosed this in a post on its official Twitter handle on Sunday.

“We’ve asked the Federal High Court, Abuja to direct and compel President Buhari to promptly publish the names of suspected looters of N6 trillion NDDC funds. Nigerians have the right to know the names of those indicted and other details in the forensic audit report,” the post read.

The suit which would be heard on November 29 was filed pursuant to the provisions of Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution and Article 26 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

“SERAP is arguing that the Buhari administration has obligations under Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] to abolish all corrupt practices, and Article 26 of the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure effective prosecution of allegations of corruption,” the post added.

SERAP in the originating summons stated that publishing the names of those involved in misappropriation of the funds would deter others in the future and enhance public confidence in the government’s fight against corruption.

It also noted that exposing those involved in the looting would strengthen the fight against corruption within the NDDC.

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“Combating the corruption epidemic in the NDDC and reining in those indicted would alleviate poverty, improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services, and enhance the ability of the government to meet its human rights and anti-corruption obligations.

“Despite the country’s enormous oil wealth, ordinary Nigerians have derived very little benefit from trillions of naira budgeted for socio-economic development in the region primarily because of widespread grand corruption, and the entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators,” it read.

SERAP further argued that public interest outweighs whatever harm may result from exposing the looters, as the misappropriation of the NDDC funds has limited Nigerians’ access to several basic amenities.

“According to public interest test, even if the government demonstrates that the publication of the names of public officials would substantially harm a legitimate interest, it is nevertheless obliged to disclose the requested information if, as it is the case here, the public interest in disclosure is sufficient enough to overweigh any perceived harm.

“The missing N6 trillion and over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta have continued to have a negative impact on the human rights of Nigerians, undermining their access to basic public goods and services, such as education, healthcare and regular and uninterrupted electricity supply.”

The Federal Government had carried out a forensic audit into the operations of the NDDC between 2000 and 2019.

The audit report revealed that N6 trillion had been misappropriated and over 13,000 projects abandoned within the Niger Delta.

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SERAP wrote the president in September, requesting that the names of those involved in the misappropriation be exposed, and is now suing Buhari for his failure to comply.

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